I've been aware of Eva Cassidy for some time, and having heard her just a bit, I assumed she was a cult hero, a musician known more for her brief and tragic career rather than her talent. But tonight on NPR I heard this performance, and I understood. I finally understood what the big deal was.
Many singers pound the high notes, since it's somewhat easier to work at the top of one's range when over-singing. But Cassidy doesn't do that. Instead she interprets the lyric with control and nuance. The high notes are delicate, appropriate for the message of the song. This is fine singing by a fine singer.
Oh, and songwriters? Let me know when you've written a melody that can compare with this one.
Danny Boy is actually a melancholy song, sung by a father whose son is going off to war. But it can be interpreted as a cry for unrequited love, or anything the listener feels right. But the melody . . . again, most songwriters would give a limb or 2 to have composed that melody.
Here's a completely alt version of the song, fun performance of the still lovely melody: