Your browser does not support our new site design, so some things might not display or function properly.
We suggest upgrading to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 9+ for the optimal experience.

RARB REVIEW

School: Washington University
Group: Greenleafs
Album: Out on a Limb

Total time: 45:16, 13 songs
Recorded 1995

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Right Here, Right Now (6.2)
  2. Strong Enough (5.8)
  3. We Belong (5.0)
  4. And So It Goes (6.0)
  5. When I Needed You (5.0)
  6. Love Shack (5.0)
  7. Walking on Broken Glass (5.2)
  8. Hail, Lady Bears! (6.4)
  9. Be With You (5.4)
  10. Circle of Life (7.0)
  11. Time After Time (5.4)
  12. Total Eclipse of the Heart (4.2)
  13. (untitled) (5.5)

Reviews

This album was reviewed by five members of RARB. In this compilation, their comments are always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the "overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.

Overall

  1. This is the most enjoyable all-female a cappella album I've heard so far. The tracks are well sung with lots of musical interest in the arrangements. I'd like to see a bit more variety, a little reaching out from the late eighties, early nineties pop ethic, but at least they do what they do well.

    The scores would all be a point or so higher if I felt stronger about some of the ensemble work. I'm hard pressed to point out any specific intonation problems, but there are sections that don't quite gel, blends that don't quite work, entrances that seem ever so slightly staggered. There are some a cappella albums where the group is so tight, so together that you have no doubt that the next chord will be as tightly together as the previous one. I never got that feeling with this album, but both the quality of the material and the singing make it well worth listening to.
    Rating: 7 (6.4)

  2. The Greenleafs have again shown that they are still a good, strong group. It is easy to see (or hear) that they are really working together as a group. There is so much more to making good music than just having a bunch of pretty voices, and they seem to have all the necessary components. They really shine brightly when working with a good arrangement. Part of what makes them good overall is the fact that they have good, tight choral blend and style when singing all together, as well as having some strong soloists. This gives rise to versatility, which is evident in the decent selection of songs and performance styles presented on this album.
    Rating: 7 (6.8)

  3. A more-or-less completely typical all-female group (except for their surprisingly low alto II's, who are unused in half the songs and wasted in the other half), the Greenleafs have a decent ensemble sound which is not shown to its best advantage by their boring arrangements and only slightly better than average song choice. Their soloists are almost uniformly unmemorable, and I suspect that they are often aided by the mixing, which is better than it could be but often fails to round out their sound. But if the Greenleafs would push their limits a little, they could be _so_ much better, as is shown by the few moments on this album where they try something different and/or put a little energy into their singing.
    Rating: 4 (3.2)

  4. A very fun album, the group has tons of energy and does everything with precision and confidence. The soloists are decent, but the strength of the group is really the ensemble singing. Vocal percussion and other "effects" are used in an effective manner, not overdone. They manage to sound like a smaller group and avoid the "choir" sound that seems to plague many college ensembles; however, there are still a few moments where the style seems to drift toward a classical sound — some over-enunciated lyrics and overdone vibrato. The disc is mixed and produced well, with everything sounding natural and consistent.

    The group has lots of personality — the group takes these songs and makes them their own. The 45 minutes of music go by quickly — when it ends, you're left wanting more. I think the group is capable of going further than they do on this album - I'd like to hear them try something that's a bit more of a stretch for them, as well as some more material that isn't heard so often.
    Rating: 7 (6.7)

  5. Earth to the Greenleafs: abandon ship! This group has some good voices and great energy, unfortunately teamed with weak arrangements and lousy tuning. I have never heard a group that both sounded like they wanted to be there and had signed contracts with as many wrong notes as the Greenleafs, and hope I never will again. They are so earnest, and have pretty voices but wow are there some lacking fundamentals. It's tough to be constructively witty — it just comes off as cruel. I hope the Greenleafs use their CASA membership to get some real arrangements and don't give up — it seems as though the potential is there. I wish them luck!
    Rating: 4 (4.8)


Individual Tracks

  1. Right Here, Right Now (6.2)
    1. This track gets the album off on the right foot. A rich arrangement that's very well sung. The second altos have that slightly processed feel that I dislike greatly, but it's not too offensive here. The choice to have the solo sung by a section rather than an individual works quite well. The real strength of this track lies in the arrangement. By constantly varying and reharmonizing the material, the track maintains intensity and interest throughout. Great job. And "the WOMAN on the radio" is a nice touch.
      Rating: 8

    2. This is a good, solid group track. I like the arrangement, and the timing is tight. Nice blend, too, most notably on the choruses.
      Rating: 8

    3. Why would they want to do this song in the first place, especially if the only way they can do it is jacked up so high it sounds ridiculous? The lyrics also sound _really_ stupid when sung by half the group. They just sing it completely soggily, with no punch whatsoever. Arrangement emphasizes the choral sound of the Greenleafs, which destroys whatever "alterna" appeal this song might have had.
      Rating: 3

    4. Very angular arrangement, with some rhythmic surprises. On first listening, the feel seemed almost mechanical, but once I got used to it, I liked the interpretation and the fact that it is was so different from the original. Some nice suspended harmonies and interesting echoing effects, with lines switching from one section to another.
      Rating: 8

    5. This track starts off with a killer combo of energy and engineering to make up for an empty arrangement. Then the solo comes in. These women sound like they should be singing Rainbow Connection instead of Jesus Jones — this song was not made for a double soprano solo. The choral chords are upbeat but stem from a misguided arrangement and are not helped when the leads go for a high note and one takes a half-beat to get there. The energy makes it impossible to truly hate this song, but you sure wish the arranger had a clue.
      Rating: 4

  2. Strong Enough (5.8)
    1. The soloist has some weird tone production occasionally, but this is competent arrangement. The ensemble work starts getting spotty in the last chorus. The tonality starts wandering.
      Rating: 6

    2. This pretty song is an excellent choice, and is well done. The arrangement is well written; multiple parts moving against each other add complexity and fullness to the song. The soloist has good control, and the group's percussion adds to the song without being distracting.
      Rating: 7

    3. I thought that anyone would have to sound better than Sheryl Crow's incredibly annoying way of abusing her voice on this song, but I was wrong. The soloist manages to top that by simultaneously trilling and breathy-alto-not-quite-on-the-note-ifying the song in a way that gets old after the first two lines. Arrangement at first sounds completely typical ("doo" and "bum"), but later breaks into some decent held harmonies and a little back and forth which I rather like. I'm not sure all the invented harmonies on the last verse work, but the laid-back percussion isn't bad.
      Rating: 5

    4. Very true to the original, this one has an appropriately heartbroken mood. The soprano descant part sounds a little slippery, kind of sliding from note to note. The bell tones in the backgrounds are too accented — they give the piece too much of a classical feel. It's encouraging to see a group do a song that is this current.
      Rating: 7

    5. Intro needed more dynamics to make it interesting — it needed expression and volumes other than loud and almost-not-loud. Percussion bass line in the chorus is effectively subtle. Solo is a mix of grunge and classical — wish she'd pick one. The background choral vocals could have worked if they'd been more in tune — I personally think this song could have done well in a soft, pretty arrangement if they'd been willing to go whole hog.
      Rating: 4

  3. We Belong (5.0)
    1. The first soloist has a slightly nervous sounding vibrato. The chorus feels pretty sparse. It's always hard to figure out how to fill out those empty spaces between lines in power choruses. I don't feel incredibly comfortable with the blend in this one. Things start feeling pretty sloppy midway through.
      Rating: 5

    2. Is it just me, or does the "Shadows of the Night" intro sound like it is missing parts, particularly the high soprano part? Either way, this song could do without this intro. Once past it, though, I like the song. The solo is light and sweet, and the duet is pretty. The song has energy and stays light. A good rendition.
      Rating: 8

    3. Soloist sounds like she's about to break, she's so quivery. Her actual voice isn't bad, but she should be singing a weepy country ballad instead, as she totally fails to pull this song off, especially on the chorus, which really needs to be rung out in that inimitable Pat Benatar way, instead of disappearing into the background. Which in itself is less than stellar — syllable lameness (all "doo's"), the people singing the chorus are often not _quite_ in synch, and the halfhearted percussion/bass is not on anything recognizable as a note. Generally lacks the requisite campy energy.
      Rating: 2

    4. The solo is a little tentative. A nice effect is created by having the mouth percussion and rhythmic background parts drop out at the end, letting the harmony parts stand on their own. Individuals hang over on releases in a few spots. The soprano descant part is awkward - the singer could be much more sure of herself.
      Rating: 6

    5. T-t-t-t. Everybody ennunciates on the "shadows of the night" intro-from-nowhere — too bad it wasn't together. But even then I think it might have been intrusive. This song is in the interpretive style of Everything But the Girl's cover of Love is Strange — it has a lovely solo and (when in tune) the "doo"s in the background are smooth and mellow, but there's no mistaking it for a rock and roll song. Despite the panoply of pitch problems, I was all set to give this song a decent rating until the end — the soprano overlay is just too painful.
      Rating: 4

  4. And So It Goes (6.0)
    1. This is a nice homophonic piece with lots of pretty thick chords. The alto-2 solo ("and every time I held a rose") has a weird tone about it, a bit too abrupt. There are rough edges on this one, but the beauty of the arranging shines through.
      Rating: 7

    2. This is another group choral performance, and a great choice for a song. This arrangement showcases the 2nd altos, which is rare but is certainly a nice change. This track is also very well directed, with its rich harmony and excellent use of dynamics.
      Rating: 9

    3. Somewhat robotic rendition of the Billy Joel "favorite" which would be improved by a) actual emotion instead of hammering on practically every note; b) mixing the _one_ person vibratoing farther back; and c) some human-style enunciation. I would be so much more impressed by their man-like alto II's on this song if they weren't so _dead_. I have to admit that this song bores me to tears, but it's not that it's badly sung here, it's just that it fails to come across in any sort of a meaningful fashion.
      Rating: 3

    4. I didn't think I was going to like this one, ("Not this one _again_?"), but this version is very musical, with some great dynamics and an arrangement that reflects musically what the lyrics are saying. The low altos sound strained in some spots where they have the melody, and the recording sounds a little odd — a bit phasey, perhaps. The group could also let the song breathe — a little more rubato would make the tune come alive even more.
      Rating: 7

    5. Whoa. The bass line is engineered to the point of the Singer's Unlimited — guess they really couldn't project. The overly-digital and -prominent alto sound combines with a wimpy beginning and shallow arrangement for a lousy song. (Favorite phonetic moment: "you can make deee-sizh-ons toooo")
      Rating: 4

  5. When I Needed You (5.0)
    1. I really love the soloists voice on this one. Strong, confident, and able. She's pretty much the only thing that makes this track noticeable at all. It sounds vaguely like a carousel in the fog and starts dragging on towards the end. It lacks development and direction.
      Rating: 6

    2. I don't have much to say about this one except that is very well done overall. The arrangement and pace both move quickly but are not rushed, and the solo is clear and strong.
      Rating: 9

    3. Incredibly cheesy song, rendered in an irritating arrangement of the usual "bum's" and "doo's", and soloist with too much of an edge to her voice. Good alto IIs _completely_ wasted on this song. Again, no one's actually off-pitch, they've just made some bad choices here.
      Rating: 2

    4. The simple beginning is appropriate for the opening lyric: "I'd like to be a child again..." However, the bell tones get old quickly, and the transitions to the other parts of the song are a little rocky. A sweet, innocent, simple song — maybe just a little too simple for my taste.
      Rating: 5

    5. This arrangement reminds me of the arrpegiated left hand for Jingle Bells I learned at summer camp when I was eight. 1-5-3-5, 1-5-3-5 — I can hear the painful plinking now. (Since none of you know who I am, let me take this time to share that I don't play piano worth a hill of beans.) Lisa Loeb-esque solo is kind of flaccid (to borrow from one of my fellow RARBers), and the echoes in the chorus aren't helping. This one is more in tune than the others so far but has less to recommend it.
      Rating: 3

  6. Love Shack (5.0)
    1. Ya know, it's really hard for anyone but Fred Schnider to sing this song. In fact, I bet it's even hard for HIM to do it. But for some reason everyone decides to take this one out for a spin. The actual arrangement isn't that bad, but I can't imagine anyone else getting that half spoken, half crazed quality of the original solo. Everyone I hear who tries ends up sounding very self conscious and, well, ridiculous. This is no exception.
      Rating: 5

    2. In general, I think this song is overdone and highly overrated. The B52's are really not easy to duplicate, and the Greenleafs make a good attempt here. It just doesn't rock like it could, and should.
      Rating: 5

    3. If there's anything this exceedingly-overdone-in-a-cappella song has in spades, it's energy. So many of the flaws of the Greenleafs version could have been forgiven if it wasn't so slow and bored- sounding — the unconvincing accent/voice of the woman trying to imitate Fred Schneider, the cracking voice of the woman trying to imitate Kate Pierson, the lame percussion... I can't even really give them credit for trying this song because it's neither an original nor a good song choice in the first place. The only decent part is the end.
      Rating: 3

    4. A tough one to pull off, especially for the soloist - the listener can't help but make comparisons to the original. The soloist does a reasonable job of capturing the essence of the "guy" part, but there are some lines, particularly some of the spoken ones, that come off sounding unnatural. The vocal percussion parts are in the same register as the low altos, which obscures the bass line somewhat — the parts get in each other's way. The song drags on — it could have been a hair faster. I was let down by the last chord — a bland and most non-funky triad. Hey, at least throw in a seventh or something on the end.
      Rating: 6

    5. Hello boys and girls — today we're going to learn about 4-4 time. See how in this song the downbeat is so carefully defined throughout the song? See how the arrangement is kept simple so the time signature isn't lost? Aside from that, this one grooves respectably. It's in tune. It has some energy. The low female solo is pretty cool. It's only slightly choral — all in all I approve. Now if only we could get some syncopation, and ditch the bass drum cameo towards the end.
      Rating: 6

  7. Walking on Broken Glass (5.2)
    1. Nice arrangment. I wouldn't sing the rhythmic figure quite so staccato, give each note time to sound. The soloist does a great job of pushing this one forward. Some ensemble sloppiness, but a good listen.
      Rating: 7

    2. This is another song which is covered too often. Its position on the album immediately following another popular cover doesn't help it any. This version is not bad, but the arrangement is oversimplified, and the first bridge drags.
      Rating: 5

    3. Again, no energy, not even from the main soloist, who is also far too quavery. She can at least hit the high notes, though, and she's much better than the auxiliary soloist on the bridge, who is both blatantly flat and has unnatural phrasing. Arrangement 99% typical both for this song and for the group, although I like the spiraling upward bits on the end of the chorus.
      Rating: 3

    4. I think this song has great possibilities for a cappella, but I haven't yet heard an arrangement that makes the most of it. That said, this is a pretty decent version. The opening has some nice counterpoint (that unfortunately thins out once the soloist comes in), and the 16th note runs are cool. It just seems like many of the cool background lines from the original are missing, and the texture could be a little more delicate and ornamented, with the tempo just a bit slower.
      Rating: 7

    5. This is just too. Too much engineering, too much vibrato-tinged head voice, too little diction, too simple an arrangement. The solo does have a lovely high range and the background runs before the chorus are accurate and cool — too bad they are all by themselves and there is too little else in the background.
      Rating: 4

  8. Hail, Lady Bears! (6.4)
    1. A neo-traditional fight song that is generally well sung (save a few clunkers) and also generally amusing. I'd actually listen to it again. And again. Does that make me patronizing?
      Rating: 7

    2. This original song has got some really cute lyrics, and I can't help but believe that the style and performance must easily inspire school spirit. It is well written and well sung. This song is more evidence that the group really excels at choral work.
      Rating: 8

    3. Strange little song to the school's women's volleyball team, mildly cute despite the completely straight-faced way that it's sung, and the somewhat cheesy lyrics. Musical value is questionable, but the one part that sounds _wrong_ is probably due to someone singing the part wrong rather than the arranger. This would be completely acceptable as a brief interlude if the rest of the album was more successful.
      Rating: 4

    4. This one falls somewhere between a parody of a fight song and a serious song of praise for the school's volleyball team. When I first saw the list of songs, I questioned the wisdom of doing a song specific to their school, but it works, mostly on the strength of it's subtle humor. The arrangement is reminiscent of alma mater songs and barbershop, but with some nice variations thrown in. A good opportunity for the group to show some versatility.
      Rating: 7

    5. This is musically the best put together of anything on the album. It sounds full, it's in tune, the engineering is less intrusive, although the imitation second-altos are once again overstudioed. But it's a slow, choral fight song and to the most of us who didn't go to Wash U the in-jokes are not riveting.
      Rating: 6

  9. Be With You (5.4)
    1. Another very strong soloist works very well with another very well arranged song. Considerable harmonic interest is generated over an insistent, obsessive bass line. I don't know if this was intentional, but there's a great moment after the first chorus when the ensemble is crescendoing on "ba da"s and dovetails into the soloist singing "But I...". Neat sound.
      Rating: 8

    2. The call-and-answer style used in this song tends to break the song up and is a little choppy. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed listening to the soloist's voice. Also, a good presence of the 2nd altos - very strong and steady.
      Rating: 6

    3. Their alto II's can hit some decently low notes, but their tone is all wrong for this kind of song, being far too choral. Also there's no need to have them singing the most boring attempt at a bass line I've heard in a long time, on "ba-na-na" no less. Some of the harmonizing on the chorus is good, albeit predictable, but the solo's voice is far too coy and thin, even for a Bangles song. The background sounds awfully sparse for 15 people. The end is both ridiculous and grating.
      Rating: 2

    4. The tune is a little repetitive at first, but the bridge provides a nice change of pace, finally switching from minor into major. Syllables are enunciated too precisely, pushing the group into the classical direction again — watch that "T" on the end of the last word - it's the musical equivalent of poking someone in the eye.
      Rating: 6

    5. I found myself sort of liking this one, until I thought about the original. It's been 10 years, but I remember light energy and a bouncy feel. This one drags — like Pat Benatar on downers. But it is in tune, and isn't so empty, and the solo has some cool moments, so let's enjoy it and try not to make comparisons.
      Rating: 5

  10. Circle of Life (7.0)
    1. Great opening! The verses do a great job of keeping an driving to the chorus. Unfortunately, the chorus is taken an octave lower than we want it to be, and the effect is intensely anti-climactic and unsatisfying. For some reason the altos are singing the rhythmic figure during the chorus as "doos" while the sopranos sing what sounds like "bah". Despite the difficulty in livening up the verse, the chorus works after we grow to accept the register it's in. I think I like it better than the original. (Which doesn't say much.)
      Rating: 7

    2. What a great beginning to this song! And a great song choice, too. Nice use of the wide range of voices in the group. I just like it. It's that simple. You just have to hear it.
      Rating: 8

    3. The beginning of this song is by far the best thing on this entire album, actually managing to sound convincing (granted it's a song for a Disney movie, but still), and in the process almost convincing me that one of them is secretly a member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It's also really well mixed. But then the girly-sounding soloist comes in, and all is white-bread again. But it goes to show that the Greenleafs could really kick some butt if they got some decent soloists and/or better arrangers.
      Rating: 5

    4. Great opening — the ethnic vibe is right on target. The group sounds exceptionally full and rich — for a second, I thought the group had snuck in some male voices. The soloist seems like she's singing a Broadway show tune (yeah I know, it's Disney, which puts it in the show tune vicinity), but a more pop-like style would work better with the African background parts.
      Rating: 8

    5. Cool intro. Slightly percussive feel, a true second alto presence for the first time ever on this album. The arrangement is not overwhelming — having found one rhythm it can overlay over a whole background, it does so the _whole song_ but it's only a problem in the chorus. Way to improve on a lousy song choice (the original is sort of trite and tepid, eh?)
      Rating: 7

  11. Time After Time (5.4)
    1. Clever arranging again. The soprano line is stated once without any harmonic reference. Taken alone it is very hard to discern the key. Four measures later when the melody comes in with the rest of the ensemble providing the key, we hear the same line in an entirely different context. Simple and effective. Much like the rest of the arrangement. The bulk of the material is presented in a simple, homophonic style while scattered solo voices constantly embellish what the group is singing.
      Rating: 7

    2. I feel that this song does not lend itself well to a cappella to begin with, since the original was heavy and monotonous. So it is not entirely the fault of the Greenleafs if the melody gets a little lost on the choruses, and if the tempo and the timing are especially difficult to recognize at the beginning of the song.
      Rating: 5

    3. I like the beginning, despite the gulping attempt at bass which is again, not really on the pitch, but then it loses energy and becomes more of the same. Parts of the arrangement are decent, but it relies too much on unison, which I think often sucks the emotion out of songs unless it's _really_ well done.
      Rating: 4

    4. I liked the vocal percussion, especially on the intro. Not bad overall — I don't really have any complaints, the song just didn't keep me interested.
      Rating: 6

    5. The intro made me think we were going to have two good songs in a row, but then the choral, empty, dead verses came in. I applaud their attempts to add percussion and an interesting Vinxesque soprano line, but she doesn't have a strong enough voice to carry the song. The phrasing is also rather forced and harmonically repetitive.
      Rating: 5

  12. Total Eclipse of the Heart (4.2)
    1. Argh. I must admit I'm biased against this song. I just don't like it. I always think of it as the female counterpart to Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light in it's stereotypical handling of gender roles. Yuck. This arrangement doesn't do much with it either. It's a bare bones, choral "doos" presenting the harmonic background over a competent solo line kind of thing. Generic and uninspiring. And that's not just because I don't like the song.
      Rating: 4

    2. Well, I really liked the choice of song — it is a blast from the past which brought back some fond memories, and one of my personal favorites from the 80's. Unfortunately, they sort of drop the ball on this one. The solo is obviously trying hard, but is very heavy. And for the rest of the group, the notes are there, but the song just doesn't flow.
      Rating: 4

    3. Soloist wavers around the pitch and scoops violently in its general direction most of the time, and she's not really in enough control of her voice to be very pleasant to listen to. They get some points for leaving the song in the original key, however. Arrangement is mildly screechy in parts, and the altos are not used as well as they could be - as soon as they get down low enough to be effective they are immediately yanked back up into the muddy middle range.
      Rating: 2

    4. A nice arrangement with interesting harmonies, but the performance isn't as spotless as some of the other songs. The soloist seems to be straining at times and has some pitch problems, as do the low altos.
      Rating: 7

    5. Ooh-wee. Back to the original tuning. Solo is vamping; I find it ineffectively melodramatic. As the song moves on, the phrasing becomes more and more stilted and overly ennunciatory. Chorus has some interesting things going on, but empty and overused as they are it comes off like muzak for the Ice Capades more than anything.
      Rating: 4

  13. (untitled) (5.5)
    1. Not reviewed.
      Rating: none

    2. Not reviewed.
      Rating: none

    3. Parts of this are much better and more energetic than the whole rest of the album — the chorus of "Freedom '90", which almost rocks, and a better beginning of "We Belong", in particular. Most of the rest is lame, but who cares? It's not supposed to be taken seriously, but again it demonstrates that they have more talent than is in evidence on this recording.
      Rating: 4

    4. This track is a riot — even though it's a conglomeration of tunes that have become cliche from overuse, I still found myself wishing I could hear the group do more than just the snippets performed here.
      Rating: none

    5. Overused a cappella 101 — strangely more in tune than most of the album, a few of these snippets are actually ok. Some are dismal, most are there. Overall, I can't blame them for including it, particularly if it makes them happy.
      Rating: 7

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

×