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Peter Hollens

Poor Wayfaring Stranger - Single (2012)

5.0

Review By Robert Dietz

July 1, 2013

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Poor Wayfaring Stranger (Peter Hollens & The Swingle Singers) is a triumph of a track — the kind that comes along once in a great while, and is only made possible by the confluence of many great parts joining together to make an excellent whole.

The foundation for this excellence is Tom Anderson’s arrangement, which provides for both moments of technical superiority and emotional nuance from the singers. It is at times bombastic, but also perfectly paced, allowing the listener just the right amount of time to absorb each new musical moment before laying down a new, often more powerful phrase. The overall effect is unsettled, but not unsettling. Truly excellent.

The next dimension of greatness lies in the singing, which is no surprise given the world-class talent at the table. Peter Hollens crushes a melody that lies in the sweet spot of his heroic, rich tenor. Sara Brimer brings both vulnerability and power to the climactic soprano solo. The backgrounds feature superb phrasing and feeling. Literally the only moment I feel is less than perfect is the opening “doo”s, which feel just a little bit too aggressive for the mood of the opening (and again upon their return at the end).

The fact that I’m talking about the quality of a single “doo” being “good, but not great” is revealing — this track is virtually airtight. A fantastic musical achievement, Poor Wayfaring Stranger is well worth a listen!

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