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Six Appeal

Plan A (2013)

3.7

September 27, 2013

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 3.3
Tracks
1 Circle of Life 4.3
2 Listen to the Music 3.3
3 Keep Your Head Up 3.3
4 Little Black Dress 4.3
5 Ordinary People 3.7
6 Not Over You 3.7
7 Breakeven 3.3
8 Do I 4.3
9 Your Man 3.3
10 On Your Love 4.3
11 I Will Survive 3.7
12 And So It Goes 3.7

Recorded 2012 – 2013
Total time: 45:10, 12 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 2
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Circle of Life 4
2 Listen to the Music 3
3 Keep Your Head Up 3
4 Little Black Dress 4
5 Ordinary People 3
6 Not Over You 3
7 Breakeven 4
8 Do I 4
9 Your Man 3
10 On Your Love 4
11 I Will Survive 3
12 And So It Goes 3

Six Appeal seem like six very charming gentlemen; throughout their first full-length album Plan A, Six Appeal showcases charisma and some real vocal skill. As they croon and rock their way through a plethora of crowd-pleasers, no wheels get reinvented, but generally speaking Plan A is a fun and well-executed a cappella album.

As alluded to earlier, the men of Six Appeal are solid singers. Soloists are, without exception, well suited to the songs in question (the leads on Little Black Dress, Do I and the well-chosen album opener Circle of Life stand out particularly well). The group blends very nicely, showcasing the tightness that is required of professional groups. The arrangements are also designed to show the group off at its best, without too many twist or turns — these are arrangements that would be a snap to perform flawlessly live, and for a group that makes its living through school engagements and touring, it's a strong decision.

While all the pieces are in place here, it's hard to view Plan A as being an essential album. The ballads (a lightly reharmonized And So It Goes, for example) don't land as well as the grooving barnburners. The production, though technically fine, often leaves the singers in flat and uninspired environments. Six Appeal also has some problems with sustaining intensity: many of the dancier tunes lose energy as they go on, and soloists don't always sell the big emotional climaxes of songs which require them. Song choice on the album definitely feels more like a live set list for a school concert than a contemporary a cappella release.

Essential release or not, there are a lot of good things going on here, and Six Appeal definitely shows its strength in group singing with this album. Fans of classic a cappella will likely dig the band's charisma and groove, but anyone looking for something new will probably want to search elsewhere.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Circle of Life 5
2 Listen to the Music 4
3 Keep Your Head Up 3
4 Little Black Dress 5
5 Ordinary People 3
6 Not Over You 4
7 Breakeven 3
8 Do I 5
9 Your Man 4
10 On Your Love 5
11 I Will Survive 4
12 And So It Goes 4

Six Appeal does all the stuff that got you listening to a cappella in the first place. The soloists are genuine and artistically ornate, the backgrounds blend on pleasant harmonies and catchy riffs, and the bass and percussion are rocking yet realistic. The covers are familiar and the original compositions embody the group's style. Plan A hits all the fundamentals, skips the hyper-post-production-processing, and reminds us of the talent and charm that are the core of contemporary a cappella.

The songs I keep coming back to on this album are the three Six Appeal originals. Little Black Dress, Do I, and On Your Love have a jazzy R&B feel with pumping percussion and energetic interplay between soloists and backgrounds. These guys are masters of using syllables and lyrics to fill out an arrangement, and their ingenuity comes through best when they aren't trying to replace the instrumental textures laid down by another artist.

You can get wrapped right into the songs on Plan A because the album is so elegantly assembled. What better opening than the epic fanfare from The Lion King? Six Appeal goes all out with animal calls and resounding percussion to recreate the magic of Circle of Life. From there it is just one doo woppy pop hit after another. Ordinary People brings things down a little too much for my taste, but it fits as a bit of a respite between the sultry Little Black Dress and emotional Not Over You. Your Man is a treat at the backend of the album; after hearing Reuben Hushagen set the groove for so many songs you at long last get to hear his rich bass take the lead on old-timey country. Lastly, And So It Goes is the goodnight kiss featuring all of the voices that make Plan A so enjoyable. It's cliché, and some of the soloist takes probably should have been redone, but Michael Brookens' breathtaking arrangement is the perfect fadeout into the silence of a finished CD.

With so much praise, there's still that special something that keeps Plan A from scoring a solid five. Six Appeal has got traditional arranging to such a science that by the middle of the album it all starts to sound the same. I Will Survive is the only track where they go out on a limb to throw in some funky feel changes. Besides that, the covers are all songs that you've heard before, done in a style that's very warm and friendly but also very straightforward.

Plan A is a great album to add to your collection. It is a shining example of how the energy of performance can be captured in a recording, and how some organic percussion and arranging techniques can liven up a song as much as any filtered special effects out there. Six Appeal has proven they know what has made a cappella so fun in the past. It will be exciting to hear them gain experience, write more new material, and make a cappella that much more fun for the future.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Circle of Life 4
2 Listen to the Music 3
3 Keep Your Head Up 4
4 Little Black Dress 4
5 Ordinary People 5
6 Not Over You 4
7 Breakeven 3
8 Do I 4
9 Your Man 3
10 On Your Love 4
11 I Will Survive 4
12 And So It Goes 4

Can someone say overlooked talent? Six Appeal has the kind of talent where the sound is smooth, compelling, polished, playful, and even raw at times. I have come across a YouTube video or two of Six Appeal and have enjoyed it, but I never really thought twice about these guys. Let's just say Plan A has my complete and undivided attention.

Six Appeal has one of the cleanest studio sounds I have ever heard, both from a sextet standpoint and in general. These gentlemen's voices work well with each other so naturally and with relative ease. My challenge to the group is to focus more attention on the dynamic journey when producing a full-length album, because this journey of contrasting dynamic levels in songs is the one factor for me that really holds back this group's sound. Aside from this, Six Appeal has little to no fault in this album.

Plan A features three original tracks by members in the group and all are worthy inclusions. Little Black Dress has a nice laid-back groove that makes it easy to listen to. Do I has a pop/soul feel that keeps the energy steady with unique lyrics to complement. On Your Love has an old-school style that really hooks you throughout the choruses and in terms of the whole package offers the most out of these three.

Michael Brookens offers a truly great revival in his stellar arrangement of I Will Survive. Something in me has been waiting a long time for a group to do this song justice in terms of energy, a killer lead, a driving beat, and non-repetitive backing parts. Yay, this song has all of the above! And major props to Jordan Roll on those high notes!

Ordinary People is outstanding. Trey Jones undoubtedly holds his own on the John Legend cover. The song features a steady bass line, a tight blend, and the bridge is amazing! Well done Andrew Berkowitz on the arrangement. Actually, I'm impressed by all of the arrangements Six Appeal delivers; the rest of the album is layered with a variety of tracks that cover a great deal of the musical spectrum. From a percussive heavy Disney classic to a bass-soloed country tune, Plan A has much to offer. (By the way, the a cappella world needs more bass solos.)

Plan A features some very talented singing in terms of both the backing group and the leads, and I highly recommend getting a copy. The group's name alone should be enough to convince you.

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Ordering Information

For more information on Six Appeal or Plan A, please email the group or visit their web site.

Plan A is also available for purchase on Facebook.

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