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Group 7

Songs (2000)

4.0

May 2, 2001

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 3.7
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.0
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 A Matter of Time 4.0
2 For One Kiss 3.7
3 Song for Toots 3.3
4 The Moment - Part I 4.3
5 The Nu Funcktion 4.3
6 Keep It in Mind 3.7
7 Mind Trip 3.7
8 Angel of My Heart 4.0
9 The Moment - Part II 3.0
10 A Life Challenge for Mr. Blofeld 3.3

Recorded 1999 – 2000
Total time: 36:06, 10 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 A Matter of Time 5
2 For One Kiss 4
3 Song for Toots 4
4 The Moment - Part I 4
5 The Nu Funcktion 4
6 Keep It in Mind 4
7 Mind Trip 4
8 Angel of My Heart 4
9 The Moment - Part II 4
10 A Life Challenge for Mr. Blofeld 3

It's great to hear an album that's new to me in so many ways. First of all, Group 7's album, Songs, is made up almost entirely of original jazz/pop material (which, if you've read my previous reviews, you know I love). Secondly, the group is from Denmark, and I rarely get the opportunity to review recordings by artists outside of the U.S.. And frankly, the superior all-around quality sets it apart from many a cappella CDs in my collection.

I really loved the first track, A Matter of Time. Group 7 has a very smooth, laid-back tone in their singing that really comes through in this track. I can really see myself popping in this disc to hear this track alone. The soloist, Anne Louise Krogh, is simply wonderful. Her flowing voice is quite soothing, yet she can really belt out the right amount of piercing tone to give you chills. Very nice.

I was not a big fan of the last track, A Life Challenge for Mr. Blofeld. I'm assuming this is a reference that I just am not familiar with. The track is made up of theme songs from James Bond movies. While the performance is very good, Group 7 sounds very much like The Swingle Singers on this track. I don't think tracks like this go over as well nowadays as they did ten years ago. The track also doesn't fit well with the rest of the tracks. The group should stick to singing vocal songs, rather than vocal arrangements of instrumental pieces. I really think it will suit them better.

The sound production is top-notch. There are no mixing or production errors here. The bass has a great round tone that really fills the bottom out nicely. I really like the cover and booklet included with the CD. It looks very professional and clean.

I would love to see these guys live. Based on what I've heard here, I'd be willing to bet they sound exactly the same way they do on the CD, and this is a good thing. This sounds like a recording that is very true to their sound. No studio trickery or piles of overdubs on this album, just great singing. If you're looking for some a cappella that was produced by a group not based in the U.S., then I really think you should check these guys out.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 A Matter of Time 3
2 For One Kiss 3
3 Song for Toots 3
4 The Moment - Part I 4
5 The Nu Funcktion 5
6 Keep It in Mind 4
7 Mind Trip 3
8 Angel of My Heart 4
9 The Moment - Part II 3
10 A Life Challenge for Mr. Blofeld 3

The Scandinavian a cappella invasion, launched by such a cappella luminaries as The Real Group, continues with Denmark's own Group 7, whose album Songs offers up an unremarkable but competent ten tracks that will reward those listeners partial to their particular blend of gentle jazzy pop.

The album boasts some surprisingly catchy tunes: The Nu Funcktion has an odd funk appeal, and Keep It in Mind had me humming along (despite some sketchy tuning). By the time I arrived at the Shania-ready Angel of My Heart, I thought, there are some great songs here. Advice to the writers: breaking the four-minute barrier can try your listeners. Go longer only with a very good reason.

Group 7's flexible style is their greatest strength, and they manage to demonstrate their capabilities in only ten tracks. But their singing stays stuck in a bland, vanilla mezzo-forte, and no single track breaks out. Even their opener, usually the most upbeat and ear-catching track on any album, is a medium-tempo torch song that never really takes off. If you like easy-listening, light jazz, and feel like something new, Group 7 is for you. Otherwise, listen to your old Vox One albums and keep your eyes peeled for Group 7's follow-up.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 A Matter of Time 4
2 For One Kiss 4
3 Song for Toots 3
4 The Moment - Part I 5
5 The Nu Funcktion 4
6 Keep It in Mind 3
7 Mind Trip 4
8 Angel of My Heart 4
9 The Moment - Part II 2
10 A Life Challenge for Mr. Blofeld 4

Group 7 has produced possibly one of the most feel-good discs I've had the pleasure of reviewing. While undeniably cheesy at times, this Scandinavian professional group infuses their sound with warmth and passion. Nearly all the songs are originals, with mixed results due to somewhat questionable lyrics and melodic hooks at times. Their blend and pitch is tight, but the creativity and energy pales somewhat in comparison to their professional colleagues (including the recordings of Vox One or The Real Group). Some of their songs seemed to lag a bit and could have benefited from a faster tempo or a more energetic arrangement perhaps. Still, I must admit, I like this CD. Sometimes a group/disc just has a certain unexplainable vibe to it, and this one makes me smile.

Songs has a healthy combo of jazz and poppy tracks, although I think they have better luck with the latter. One exception would be The Moment — Part I, a weird but oddly satisfying one-minute-long mix of jazz chords and interesting syllables. The soloists across the board are fairly strong, but the solo-songwriter combo of Anne Louise Krogh and Claes Sonderriis (A Matter of Time and Angel of My Heart) seems to particularly resonate well. Anne's voice blends warmth and edge, and Claes has written two particularly catchy melodies for the soloist to sink her teeth into. And I must note, it takes guts and a good sense of humor to end a CD with a medley of nine Bond movie themes.

Is this CD one I would rush to put on for a friend who had never heard a cappella before? Not really. Is it one I'd put on on a Sunday morning while making brunch after waking up late? Absolutely. Due to my inability to read the liner notes, I can't tell where Songs lies along Group 7's development timeline, but I am pretty sure it's a solid milestone regardless.

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