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Fermata Town

Time and Chances (2018)

4.7

March 22, 2019

Tuning / Blend 4.7
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.7
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.7
Repeat Listenability 4.3
Tracks
1 My Willing Heart (Intro) 3.3
2 Forever Don't Last 4.0
3 Love So Soft 4.3
4 Remember the Time 4.0
5 Give Me One Reason 4.3
6 Lush Life 4.3
7 Make You Love Me 4.0
8 Piano Song 4.0
9 Something 4.7
10 As 5.0
11 Object Permanence (Outro) 3.3

Recorded 2017 – 2018
Total time: 41:00, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 My Willing Heart (Intro) 2
2 Forever Don't Last 4
3 Love So Soft 4
4 Remember the Time 5
5 Give Me One Reason 5
6 Lush Life 4
7 Make You Love Me 5
8 Piano Song 4
9 Something 5
10 As 5
11 Object Permanence (Outro) 2

Boston-based CAL group Fermata Town took some time between its album releases, but its newest work Time and Chances still continues the jazzy sensibilities that we heard on the group's last album, 2015's Overtime. This group has mastered the art of song selection and song arrangement to fit into its sonic theme. Fermata Town has completely revamped Give Me One Reason into a new jazz standard, and the group went with Remember the Time and Something instead of one of Michael Jackson's or the Beatles' megahits.

As a result, Time and Chances relies on sounds and emotions rather than familiarity, which makes it an infinitely interesting listen. Make You Love Me is a particular standout; Philipp Walzer's arrangement takes the song through several changing sections that transition smoothly and travel on a compelling journey. Forever Don't Last is equally compelling behind Jeffrey Herrera's dynamic lead, and Remember the Time keeps the original's swing flair but completely removes any of its pop moments.

While Time and Chances as a whole is an engaging listen, not everything here is super successful. Piano Song is a little too repetitive, and the intro and outro tracks are thoroughly unnecessary. (Intro/outro tracks are rarely necessary, even in music with instruments, and these tracks add very little here.) Still, the album succeeds despite these missteps: every track is flawlessly sung, beautifully performed, and completely engaging. Fermata Town took its time releasing Time and Chances, and that deliberation certainly pays off for the group — and for us as listeners.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 My Willing Heart (Intro) 5
2 Forever Don't Last 5
3 Love So Soft 5
4 Remember the Time 4
5 Give Me One Reason 4
6 Lush Life 5
7 Make You Love Me 4
8 Piano Song 5
9 Something 5
10 As 5
11 Object Permanence (Outro) 5

With its newest album release, Boston-based CAL group Fermata Town boldly endeavors to explore the human experience. Through a series of imaginative arrangements, reharmonized classics, and sultry interpretations, Time and Chances does not disappoint, creating a journey that is as thought-provoking as it is impressive.

A trademark of Fermata Town's discography, the arrangements on this album are top-notch. I am not always a fan of separating an intro from the song that precedes it, but My Willing Heart (Intro) maintains enough of the characteristics of its source material, is perfectly captivating, and seizes a listener's attention with a seamless transition into Forever Don't Last, which is exceptional and a clear standout. While Forever Don't Last does not have quite the same veracity as the original, it endeavors a completely different style to suit soloist Jeffrey Herrera's rich, low vocal timbre — and does so with softer vocal intention from background vocals interspersed with sections of complex chords set to brilliantly varied rhythms. The entire performance, from top to bottom, is consistent and intentional; there are clear reasons as to why each section is performed the way it is, nothing is obligatory, and solo and background intentions match. Similarly, Katya Dreyer-Oren's reimagining of The Beatles' Something is a welcome deconstruction of a classic tune in a very intentional, innovative way. The arrangement does not shy away from persistent dissonance while fitting the song into a different meter, which is not always an effective choice; but in this case, it serves the concept because all facets of the interpretation are in concert.

These arrangement tapestries create an opportunity to tell stories without vocal gymnastics or major frills; rather, the vibe created and the often-surprising twists and turns the arrangments take are the stars. The intro to Love So Soft is thoroughly mesmerizing, and the groove and intensity created in the song proper are matched by the attention to detail by soloist Liz Mongrello, from her dynamic contrast all the way down to her ending nasal consonants. This is also the case for the solo stylings of Mandy Cook on Piano Song, in which her contrasts of dynamics and intensity suit the tune's mood at every moment. The completeness of arrangements like Remember the Time, which continues through its outro and fade-out, is also notable. Not one vocal moment is taken for granted on this album.

While there is deserved praise all around, the contributions of Philipp Walzer are particularly striking. In addition to arranging nearly all of the songs featured on this album, he serves as the percussionist for nearly every track with a varied toolkit of sounds that augment the various twists and turns featured in these intricate arrangements. While that sort of work is not always front-and-center, it is a major component to the cohesiveness and overall success of this album.

I close with not only the highest of recommendations but also a quote from Fermata Town's own credits page for Time and Chances: "And just as our lives are a collection of chances taken, so too is this album."


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 My Willing Heart (Intro) 3
2 Forever Don't Last 3
3 Love So Soft 4
4 Remember the Time 3
5 Give Me One Reason 4
6 Lush Life 4
7 Make You Love Me 3
8 Piano Song 3
9 Something 4
10 As 5
11 Object Permanence (Outro) 3

The choral intro and outro to Time and Chances set the album up as an extended moment somewhat divorced from reality, and Fermata Town's beautiful choral sound adds to that ethereal feeling.

The choral conceit is featured heavily throughout the album, as well it should be. The background vocals are definitely the star of the show, and sometimes the strong chorus outbalances the soloists at key moments, notably towards the end of Love So Soft and Give Me One Reason. Soloists Liz Mongrello and Anna Miller, respectively, have lovely voices and really bring the powerhouse ballad style, and I would have loved to see the spotlight fully handed over to them when the line called for it.

The album also suffers from a little bit of homogeneity in the sound towards the middle, and because of its strong setup as a moment stuck out of time, the album lacks something in forward momentum as a straight-through listen. As, the album's final track save for the choral outro, is an excellent example of how to use that choral sound in a way that's still true to Fermata Town's style while still breaking up the similar structure of the arrangements that precede it.

Overall, Time and Chances is a beautiful listen that really feels like taking a step away from the world for a while. Fermata Town's consistently strong sound and dedication to the album's overarching concept speak very well for the group's talent and musicianship.


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Ordering Information

Time and Chances is available on all major platforms.

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