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InsideOut

So It Seems (2001)

4.0

December 7, 2001

Tuning / Blend 4.3
Energy / Intensity 3.7
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 3.7
Repeat Listenability 3.7
Tracks
1 Innocence II 4.0
2 Forever Young 4.0
3 Only You 4.0
4 Love Right Through 3.7
5 I'll Fly 3.7
6 Just Can't Get Enough 4.3
7 When I Fall in Love/I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons) 3.7
8 You've Got a Friend 3.3
9 Taken Up 4.0
10 Renewal 3.3

Recorded 2001
Total time: 42:01, 10 songs


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Innocence II 2
2 Forever Young 4
3 Only You 4
4 Love Right Through 4
5 I'll Fly 3
6 Just Can't Get Enough 4
7 When I Fall in Love/I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons) 3
8 You've Got a Friend 3
9 Taken Up 5
10 Renewal 3

Better songs, better production, even better percussion — InsideOut's So It Seems is a giant step up from their previous effort, Experience.

Head writer/arranger and apparent group leader Kimball Brown serves up more of his Christian rock-style originals, balanced out with some well-chosen cover songs. Unfortunately, Brown continues to play it safe in his own writing, musically as well as lyrically, which is regrettable, because his cover arrangements display an exciting flair and sense of adventure (e.g. Only You). I wish Brown would take those same risks in his own writing.

Nonetheless, the songs are good. The most enjoyable one, Taken Up, is hidden away on the second to last track, when it should probably have opened the album. I felt that the opener, the epic Innocence II, belonged on a previous album.

The production works, too. Novelty songs that seemed terribly out of place on Experience are here relegated to the computer-readable extras section, where they belong, and the vocal percussion is well-percussed and equally well-produced.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Innocence II 5
2 Forever Young 4
3 Only You 3
4 Love Right Through 4
5 I'll Fly 4
6 Just Can't Get Enough 4
7 When I Fall in Love/I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons) 3
8 You've Got a Friend 3
9 Taken Up 3
10 Renewal 4

If you are worried that the rough, urban sounds of 98 Degrees may be corrupting your nine-year-old daughter, introduce her to InsideOut, the boy band even a mother could love.

One RARB reviewer likened InsideOut's album Experience to VH1. If Experience was VH1, So It Seems is easy listenin'. The assertive religious language of Experience is gone. No more goofy, college-style humor. So It Seems walks such a straight and narrow path, you know it goes to bed promptly at nine every night and never forgets to scrub behind its ears. Even the rap break in Just Can't Get Enough is clean-cut.

InsideOut's technique is unimpeachable. Every chord features excellent tuning, flawless blend, clean recording, etc. My criticism is focused on how they choose to use those laudable skills. The big problem is a sense of sameness, not only from track to track, but within each song. InsideOut needs to make sure each track has enough forward momentum to keep the listener involved from chorus to chorus.

What happened to the risk-taking on Experience? I really enjoyed the variety on that album, as well as the sense that the group was stretching in terms of repertoire and humor. The Experience originals were catchy and unusual, too. Some tracks on So It Seems (You've Got a Friend) even edge toward a cappella Muzak.

Sometimes it's a sign of maturity when a group begins specializing in the one thing they do best, but frankly, with the big surprises gone, InsideOut has got to find another way to shake things up. Maybe some live tracks would do the trick. It's a shame to see such a marvelous group of singers addressing material that, for the most part, isn't equal to their talent.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Innocence II 5
2 Forever Young 4
3 Only You 5
4 Love Right Through 3
5 I'll Fly 4
6 Just Can't Get Enough 5
7 When I Fall in Love/I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons) 5
8 You've Got a Friend 4
9 Taken Up 4
10 Renewal 3

InsideOut has crafted a commendable CD in So It Seems. The singers possess a remarkably accurate sense of pitch and tonality. The group keeps energy flowing across all the songs, a trait that many groups struggle with.

If I found a fault with the group's effort, it was that the vocal percussion on many cuts sounded like a beat box. A beat box is one of those annoying electronic devices that the keyboardist at the local steak house employs instead of a drummer. With all the electronic enhancement that InsideOut used in the production of the work, I am surprised that they did not manipulate the vocal percussion differently.

Other than the vocal percussion, their electronic styling of their sound worked. They started the CD with Innocence II, featuring lush sounds and electronic aural shapings. Only You is a neat rhythm-based song with a simple melody that showcases their accurate singing. It also shows how good their vocal percussion can be. Just Can't Get Enough is the best song on the CD. The energetic, upbeat tune keeps your foot tapping. Suddenly, the song jumps to a rap and then back to music. It works. It's fun.

Then on When I Fall in Love / I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons), they deliver a really musical love ballad, starting with a great solo. After gently singing a wonderful bass background line, the bass, in a way that only a real bass can do, sings the melodic line, and I could hear the ladies melting. When tune two of the medley shows up, the high tenor/bass tag team should have the women swaying. This is excellent music.

Next up is a cover of a James Taylor cover of a Carole King song. And they perform it admirably in a fashion that James and Carole would likely find agreeable.

As you can tell, I liked a lot about the results of the efforts InsideOut has made with this CD. Even the two lower-rated cuts have their positives, but fail mostly on technical points. Let's dwell on the positives. InsideOut has a winner in So It Seems.

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Ordering Information

CDs are available directly from InsideOut, and from both Primarily A Cappella and Mainely A Cappella.

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