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.

Dare To Breathe

Bright Morning Stars (2001)

4.3

December 26, 2001

Tuning / Blend 4.0
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.3
Soloists 4.3
Sound / Production 3.7
Repeat Listenability 4.3
Tracks
1 Bright Morning Stars 4.7
2 Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos? 3.7
3 Blue Bayou 3.7
4 You Go To My Head 3.7
5 Gilly-Gilly-Ossenfeffer-Katzenellen-Bogen-By-The-Sea 3.7
6 The Cuillins of Rhum 4.0
7 Searching For Lambs 4.3
8 Travelers' Prayer 4.0
9 Jigs 4.3
10 Other Songs 4.0
11 Coffee Calling 3.3
12 Under the Full Moonlight 3.7
13 Chela 4.7
14 Tamar-Kalo 4.0
15 The Lone Wild Bird 4.3
16 How Can I Keep From Singing? 4.7
17 Smile 4.0

Recorded 2001
Total time: 48:33, 17 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Bright Morning Stars 5
2 Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos? 5
3 Blue Bayou 4
4 You Go To My Head 4
5 Gilly-Gilly-Ossenfeffer-Katzenellen-Bogen-By-The-Sea 4
6 The Cuillins of Rhum 4
7 Searching For Lambs 5
8 Travelers' Prayer 5
9 Jigs 4
10 Other Songs 4
11 Coffee Calling 4
12 Under the Full Moonlight 4
13 Chela 5
14 Tamar-Kalo 5
15 The Lone Wild Bird 5
16 How Can I Keep From Singing? 5
17 Smile 4

Beautiful music from Dare to Breathe, five professional-quality voices from Minnesota. It is, however, awfully wholesome. If you are not the sort of person who goes to secular music concerts held in nondenominational church sanctuaries, you are probably not the person for this disc.

Bright Morning Stars is a very ecumenical disc. Kids' songs, church songs, songs with no words, songs in obscure languages, jazz songs and songs about coffee. They all go together because of the album's uniform spirit and the trained, white, theater-people voices that capably wrap around all of their varied repertoire.

Actually, the best cuts on this record would sound at home in any church, nondenominational or otherwise. The superb Chela is dominated by sopranos and has the same clarity as an Anonymous 4 plainchant. Secular words, but the same coloring as a Byzantine hymn. It starts a two-song block of Eastern European folk music — the subsequent Tamar-Kalo is also very nice. Two beautiful cuts, so different from the rest of the repertoire, buried so unassumingly toward the end of the disc.

It's that kind of album. Another surprise was the lilting exhibition of three common jigs: The Swallowtail, Morrison's and The Irish Washerwoman. They really should have left it at two; the Morrison's arrangement is wonderfully danceable and they can't keep the momentum after the switch. But the Washerwoman arrangement is pretty interesting even if the performance falls through, and anyway most listeners won't share my thorough familiarity with the three tunes.

Searching for Lambs is the best of the British Isles lot, a really haunting treatment. I also give the group credit for its deft handling of Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos?, a dauntingly ambitious choice. The rest of the repertoire has a songs-for-aging-children feel to it, from the Linda Ronstadt-like version of Blue Bayou to a recurring tenor solo with that archetypal clear, nasal, gay-men's-choir timbre. The album also features this classic romantic line, which will be familiar to any reasonably middle-aged working stiff: "You are mine, now it's time/This is your coffee calling.".

It's a nice disc, full of nice stuff, that will appeal very much to some and little to others. A quick sample should give any newcomer a clear idea of which camp to join.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Bright Morning Stars 4
2 Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos? 3
3 Blue Bayou 3
4 You Go To My Head 3
5 Gilly-Gilly-Ossenfeffer-Katzenellen-Bogen-By-The-Sea 3
6 The Cuillins of Rhum 3
7 Searching For Lambs 4
8 Travelers' Prayer 3
9 Jigs 4
10 Other Songs 4
11 Coffee Calling 3
12 Under the Full Moonlight 3
13 Chela 4
14 Tamar-Kalo 3
15 The Lone Wild Bird 3
16 How Can I Keep From Singing? 5
17 Smile 4

Of the fifty or so albums I've reviewed for RARB, this one may be one of my favorites.

A sparkling combination of folk, novelty, popular, and dance (yes, dance — check out Jig), Dare to Breathe's Bright Morning Stars takes the listener from Magrelian dirges to traditional American, Scottish, and English songs, through to Charlie Chaplin's Smile and Roy Orbinson's Blue Bayou, never once losing this listener.

In the folk tradition, the group shuns any attempt at syrupy blend in favor of clear, heartfelt, individual performances from every member. The voices are showcased particularly well in the rondo, layered structures of many of the traditional numbers, the variety of voices adding to the song like so many ingredients in a delicious stew.

The philosophy of the group can best be heard in their original song Coffee Calling, Dare to Breathe's worthy addition to the ranks of a cappella coffee songs. Not nearly as complex as Java Jive, or as slick and blended as Rockapella's Folgers jingle, this song, plain, funny, and direct, may represent, in some manner, the way this group has embraced the folk song ethic in every aspect of their performance.

Dare to Breathe doesn't try to do anything fancy, but their well-chosen repertoire and no-frills delivery means they don't have to.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Bright Morning Stars 5
2 Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos? 3
3 Blue Bayou 4
4 You Go To My Head 4
5 Gilly-Gilly-Ossenfeffer-Katzenellen-Bogen-By-The-Sea 4
6 The Cuillins of Rhum 5
7 Searching For Lambs 4
8 Travelers' Prayer 4
9 Jigs 5
10 Other Songs 4
11 Coffee Calling 3
12 Under the Full Moonlight 4
13 Chela 5
14 Tamar-Kalo 4
15 The Lone Wild Bird 5
16 How Can I Keep From Singing? 4
17 Smile 4

Dare To Breathe's latest CD, Bright Morning Stars, is what I would call Adult A Cappella. You can't classify it as sophisticated; it's not pop; it's not classical. The only word left for me to describe it is mature, although consumable by all age groups.

Now that we have classified them, what do they do? They skillfully sing original songs and original arrangements of songs from all over the world, even traditional songs of Megrelia. (If you're like me, you didn't even know that Megrelia had a tradition.)

Being from St. Paul, Minnesota, Dare to Breathe begins with a traditional American tune, the title cut, Bright Morning Stars. This is a group arrangement, and it might be the best song on the CD. The singers make the most of the emotions in the tune. The results are absolutely gorgeous and you immediately realize that these three men and two women have talent.

There are several other very fine cuts on the CD. On Chela, only the ladies harmonize, and they produce some really strong overtones. Jigs is an Irish tune where the ladies again shine while the gentlemen provide a bagpipe-like open fifth. Also from the British Isles is a Scottish tune, The Cuillins of Rhum, that leaves the listener longing for the heather-covered hills of the homeland. Throughout most of the album, Dare to Breathe brings out every sentiment a song allows.

Even when they miss the mark on a song, it is still fun to listen. On the second cut, Brasil não Seremos Jamais, Ou Seremos?, DTB kept wandering away from the tonal center. It is a fun song, but critically fails to match their best. Coffee Calling again is a fun song, with the great line "two hours work in ten seconds flat/Decaf drinkers can't do that". Unfortunately, the volume relationships among the singers are out of balance.

After all is written and done, this is an excellent recording, unlike any I have heard before. Dare to Breathe has made a fan of me. Keep up the good work.

Two notes about the CD: First, if you have a parent or friend who sings in a church or community choir, this CD would make an excellent gift. It would be a sneaky way to introduce them to a cappella.

Secondly, the CD was recorded in a Lutheran church. Throughout the recording, you can hear the warmth of the room and the native reverb. It is a fine example of how to record music without all the expensive studio hardware. Seek and ye shall find a bathroom, stairwell, or unsuspecting room that makes your group sound really good.

Advertisement

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.

×

Ordering Information

CDs are available from Mainely A Cappella, Primarily A Cappella, and Amazon.

×