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.

Eclipse

Three Kings (2003)

5.0

January 10, 2004

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 5.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.3
Soloists 5.0
Sound / Production 5.0
Repeat Listenability 4.3
Tracks
1 Three Kings 5.0
2 The First Noel 5.0
3 What Child is This? 4.3
4 This Year 4.3
5 Drummer Boy 5.0
6 Lullaby 4.3
7 Go Tell It 5.0
8 Room in the Inn 4.7
9 Hark, the Herald Angels Sing 4.3
10 The Christmas Song 4.7
11 Silent Night 4.7

Recorded 2003
Total time: 40:54, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Three Kings 5
2 The First Noel 5
3 What Child is This? 5
4 This Year 5
5 Drummer Boy 5
6 Lullaby 5
7 Go Tell It 5
8 Room in the Inn 5
9 Hark, the Herald Angels Sing 5
10 The Christmas Song 5
11 Silent Night 5

Eclipse has done it again. I thoroughly enjoyed their past offerings Once and Think Twice, and Three Kings is no exception. Perhaps the next album will be called Four Square? Three Kings is a Christmas album, and you should probably buy it.

Eclipse returns with interesting takes on traditional hymns and throws in a few solid originals for good measure. They choose not to list soloists, perhaps in an effort to promote the team aspect of the group. All of the soloists are excellent.

These men blend together seamlessly and resonate with beautiful chords. The arrangements are complex and interesting. The group relies on more traditional syllable choices, but it totally works for this group and their music. The production on the album is flawless. The voices are the focus and they don't need many touchups. The guys sound energetic and excited about what they are singing.

The original songs are two Christmas lullabies (This Year and Lullaby) and the beautiful Room in the Inn. These are well-written and interesting. They fit in with the rest of the album in quality.

Three Kings may be better for a dinner party instead of a rousing gathering, as the songs are more serious and religious in nature (except for The Christmas Song). That's as it should be — Eclipse is a Christian group. I like their upbeat versions of Drummer Boy and Go Tell It, which add some syncopated rhythms to liven up the songs.

Add Three Kings to you collection of Christmas albums. You won't regret it.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Three Kings 5
2 The First Noel 5
3 What Child is This? 4
4 This Year 4
5 Drummer Boy 5
6 Lullaby 4
7 Go Tell It 5
8 Room in the Inn 5
9 Hark, the Herald Angels Sing 4
10 The Christmas Song 4
11 Silent Night 5

Christmas albums are funny things. On one hand, you face the challenge of measuring up to a slew of definitive renditions and arrangements built up over decades or even centuries. Perform it the way it's always been done, and sound derivative, lazy, and/or uninspired. On the other hand, changing things up too much may alienate audiences looking for the warm, fuzzy, and familiar feeling they associate with holiday classics (or at the bare minimum, you may appear as if you're trying too hard). Write originals and inevitably be compared to the many giants that walked this road before you. And above all, who needs another Christmas album?!?!

With all these pitfalls, it's no wonder so few discs manage to break out from the holiday sludge that appears every November. Eclipse's new album Three Kings makes all the greater impact by succeeding where the group should fail miserably, and with considerable skill and aplomb. Everything you've come to expect from an Eclipse album is here in full force. Top notch production, enhancing sound but never stealing the spotlight from the singers themselves. Infectious energy backed up by impeccable tuning and a bright, smooth blend. Creative takes on songs you've heard before and solid, sometimes excellent new additions to the fray. Patrick Rose takes the creative reins again here, contributing the vast bulk of these engaging arrangements; losing him to graduate school is indubitably a blow for Eclipse, but I have confidence and hope the group will soldier onwards and upwards. A small but deserving shotout: Lance Clayton contributed some seriously beautiful album photography here, in particular the stunning cover photo.

The strongest tracks here are upbeat, driving gems that punch new energy and life into tired traditionals without losing their spirit (much like the stellar covers on Eclipse's first album Once). Tracks like Three Kings and Drummer Boy get a great groove from new syncopations and catchy bass licks underlying the traditional melodies. And the raucous end to Go Tell It is a total delight as percussion goes wild, riffs go flying, and the listener's mouth drops open with pleasure. The original This Year falters a bit with lyrics saccharine even for the holidays ("Let your heart know, let your love show…let a smile reach out making it clear"), but a few catchy hooks and some nice harmonies help squelch any Scrooge-like inklings you might have.

The rest of the album consists primarily of Christmas ballads reimagined with lush jazz chords. Nothing here that you haven't heard before in similar fashion, but that doesn't make Eclipse's expert administration of the model any less enjoyable. Harmonic moments like the opening chords of The First Noel fairly sparkle out of the speakers. I also liked the closer, Silent Night, which has a bittersweet and wistful tone that contrasted well with the cheerful sound that permeates most of Eclipse's canon.

So who needs another Christmas album? You do — at least this one.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Three Kings 5
2 The First Noel 5
3 What Child is This? 4
4 This Year 4
5 Drummer Boy 5
6 Lullaby 4
7 Go Tell It 5
8 Room in the Inn 4
9 Hark, the Herald Angels Sing 4
10 The Christmas Song 5
11 Silent Night 4

This year, put Eclipse's new album Three Kings on your Christmas wish list.

Mr. Patrick Rose and Mr. Derek Furch have unique arranging styles that blend together as nicely as homemade egg nog and añejo rum. Both gentlemen utilize lush harmonies and tasteful chord substitutions. Right from the start, with the title track Three Kings, you'll also be treated to rhythmic delights like the layering of a 3/4 solo over an upbeat, rhythmic ostinato alternating between 4/4 and 2/4. Later tracks cleverly follow suit resulting in a delightfully cohesive forty-one minutes.

But there's more to this album than excellent arrangements. The performances are comfortable and confident, unified voices locking, bouncing, and weaving together in a tapestry of rich texture. The lilting tenor voices are especially appealing, radiating an enveloping, soothing warmth that matches well with the clarity and fullness of the lower voices. Percussion on four tracks is useful, moderately effected, and tasteful.

Eclipse feels at home from start to finish. They've fashioned a sound with velvety and appealing personality. It's not just a collection of songs. It's that rare beast of a project (at least in the a cappella world) that holds together as a whole, unlike less successful albums that are hastily slapped together collections of poorly fitted single tunes. The songs blend seamlessly into one another but each is defined and distinct enough to warrant attention on its individual merits.

Be good boys and girls — Mr. Santa has his list and he's checking it twice. If you're lucky, you'll find Three Kings in your stocking.


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

The album is available from Eclipse's website, Mainely A Cappella, and Primarily A Cappella.

×