The Right Atmosphere
There is little point in comparing Wilson's tribute to Billy Holiday with the same [cover-wise] from Rebecca Ferguson. Opener Don't Explain demonstrates why clearly enough: the jazz vibe is so much more evident and authentic - with Wilson's experience/inclination, and the production team [Nick Launay, T Bone Burnett], that's hardly surprising - also the clarinet [Robby Marshall] that is such a bold instrument on this and Wilson's husky vocal make it such a distinctive sound, rather than Ferguson's much more commercial and conventional take [which I do like, as written here].
It is that combination of bass clarinet and Wilson's singing that continues to establish such a strong signature on the opening songs, and with Crazy He Calls Me, the string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks add a contrasting gloss to this atmospheric blues. It is a richly smooth as well as cheeky version - some playfulness amongst the homage.
Ferguson didn't cover Strange Fruit, but Wilson does with another atmospheric arrangement, the strings providing an anachronistic lush overlay that seems to work, probably because of the deep resonance of Wilson's singing as counter in its dominant emotion.