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Liberty Voices

A Slice of A Cappella (2001)

4.3

January 29, 2002

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 3.7
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 5.0
Repeat Listenability 3.3
Tracks
1 Give Me Your Tired 4.7
2 God Bless the USA 4.0
3 Songs of the West (medley) 4.3
4 Rockytop 4.3
5 Kentucky Babe 4.3
6 Back Home Again in Indiana 4.7
7 The Red, White and Blue (medley) 4.3
8 When I Fall in Love 4.7
9 Yankee Doodle 4.3
10 Ol' Man River 4.3
11 Old MacDonald Had a Farm 4.3
12 A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 4.7

Recorded 2000
Total time: 36:58, 12 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Give Me Your Tired 5
2 God Bless the USA 4
3 Songs of the West (medley) 5
4 Rockytop 5
5 Kentucky Babe 5
6 Back Home Again in Indiana 5
7 The Red, White and Blue (medley) 5
8 When I Fall in Love 5
9 Yankee Doodle 5
10 Ol' Man River 5
11 Old MacDonald Had a Farm 5
12 A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 5

Liberty Voices is an eight-person ensemble of singers put together by Derric Johnson. Some of you may have heard of Mr. Johnson as the director of The Voices of Liberty at Disney World in Florida. I must admit that when I first received this album to review, I was skeptical. I wasn't sure what kind of album to expect. Patriotic American music generally isn't a genre that I listen to often.

But I was simply amazed at this recording. This is one of the best choral ensembles I've heard in many years. Their tuning and blend are simply incredible. This genre seems very appropriate for the times, as well. All of the arrangements were written by Derric Johnson himself. I think my favorite track has to be Give Me Your Tired. It's a beautiful song, and it just dreamy to listen to. My least favorite track was definitely God Bless the USA. They've executed the song expertly, but for some reason I've hated that song for years and it's very difficult to get past that problem.

Such a wonderful album of patriotic songs sung perfectly at the every point should not be missed by any a cappella fan. Pick up a copy of this CD, and you won't be sorry.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Give Me Your Tired 5
2 God Bless the USA 4
3 Songs of the West (medley) 4
4 Rockytop 4
5 Kentucky Babe 4
6 Back Home Again in Indiana 5
7 The Red, White and Blue (medley) 4
8 When I Fall in Love 4
9 Yankee Doodle 4
10 Ol' Man River 3
11 Old MacDonald Had a Farm 4
12 A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 5

There's no denying the vocal skills and arranging know-how of Liberty Voices. Choral technique is nothing less than impeccable, the blend as smooth and tight as humanly possible, the direction tasteful and appropriate.

Their web site wisely avoids any attempt at modesty and lays it all out: national tours, television appearances, and performances for five U.S. Presidents. If it sounds like hype, it isn't, because if A Slice of A Cappella is any indicator, this group can really sing.

Production is top-notch, and repertoire balances the well-known and the lesser-known. However, the CD is difficult to recommend beyond high school choral directors looking for material (they should definitely order now, especially since Derric Johnson's arrangements are available for purchase) or big fans of early American patriotic music.

I'm not trying to be glib, just to voice the obvious. This album is a great memento for what would no doubt be a memorable performance. But Liberty Voices is a boutique singing group, and they've created a boutique album, strictly for the connoisseur. For the rest of us, it's good for only a single listen. The form is fantastic — buy only if the content interests you to the same degree.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Give Me Your Tired 4
2 God Bless the USA 4
3 Songs of the West (medley) 4
4 Rockytop 4
5 Kentucky Babe 4
6 Back Home Again in Indiana 4
7 The Red, White and Blue (medley) 4
8 When I Fall in Love 5
9 Yankee Doodle 4
10 Ol' Man River 5
11 Old MacDonald Had a Farm 4
12 A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes 4

I have to say that this is one of the toughest reviews I have had to write all year! Derric Johnson's Liberty Voices is an outstanding group of singers, with wonderful voices and immaculate tuning.

Having said that, I have to add that I found an entire album of Americana to be somewhat overwhelming. This could partly stem from the fact that I'm not American, and as such I don't feel a cultural attachment to the selections. Still, I think that this could even test the listening patience of a genuine red-white-and-blue-blooded Yank (as we Aussies like to call them!). Hence the disparity between my scores for quality and repeat listenability.

The Liberty Voices have an unusual style. Many of their arrangements sound almost like barbershop, although this is not so surprising when you consider that barbershop was developed using songs of this genre.

At other times they could happily fill in for Bing Crosby's backing vocalists on White Christmas, with all voices singing the words together in a full, layered, chorus sound, reminiscent of the 1950s. While it is beautiful, it does tend to make them sound a little dated.

A highlight of this album for me was Kevin Mile's amazing bass solo in Old Man River. He has the most amazing rich resonance that sends shivers down my spine! Even better is When I Fall in Love, a beautiful, haunting rendition of this famous ballad. This is undoubtedly my favorite track, with the loveliest soloist — I wish she had been credited so I could include her name here.

Those of you out there looking for the great, patriotic American a cappella album, look no further! However, if you are searching for more variety in a contemporary setting, this is probably not the album for you.

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Ordering Information

Visit the Liberty Voices web site to order online using Visa or Mastercard or for a mail order form. Order forms can also be requested by email from Cartermay@aol.com or by calling toll free 1-866-LVoices. When leaving a message, be sure to include your name and mailing/fax/email address.

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