Total time: 39:52, 13 songs
I can sum up the Counterparts' sound in three words: Sleek, sultry, and smart. It's similar to their last CD except that this time around the jazz element doesn't work as well. They have a good sound to sing both pop and jazz, but two of the three jazz songs on this disc are uninspired at best. Only a snazzy version of All of Me is worth your time (and theirs).
The pop songs that make up the bulk of the CD are much more on target. They picked good songs that are just slightly off the beaten track, so the album feels fresher than a lot of college discs. Fiona Apple's Shadowboxer hits all the right notes. The groovy '70s sound of Cosmic Girl gets under your skin like few songs do. And the arresting solo on One of Us (sung by John Stephens) raises the song to a new level.
I have to admit, I'm a little scared — ALL of the arrangements are by Dennis La. What happens when he graduates?
Song Most Likely to Be On Their Next Album: Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears
Song that Ought to Be On Their Next Album:
Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do by Fats Waller
Rating: 8 (7.2)
The first time I listened to this disc, I really liked the opening track and the rest of the album struck me as mediocre.
A few months went by between when I first listened to it and the next, when I sat down to write this review. I listened a bit more closely, and really the rest of the album was pretty good. If I'd gotten it a few years ago the song scores would have been through the roof. But it just doesn't grab me.
The arrangements are mostly pretty decent, the soloists credible and some of them good. The whole thing could use more resonant sound, in my book, but that's not the style these days. (And lord knows we've heard enough people go overboard trying for the other extreme.) There aren't many energy songs, and most of the ones that try to fill that role don't, really. Except the first track, One of Us, which kicks butt. The rest of it fades into oblivion. Offhand, I'd say I liked their version of Stay and If It Makes You Happy (two songs which I've never cared for, by the way, but you take what you can get.) And their version of Shadowboxer is worth a listen. (All these are ballads — there are some interesting things in the uptunes, but they don't do enough.) Otherwise it all blends together, though if you isolate most parts of it, they don't do too badly.
This is a very serious sort of album — I didn't have much funny to say
about it, and it's clear they took their work seriously and worked hard.
I want more fun out of a disc.
Rating: 7 (6.9)
The Penn Counterparts have done something with this CD that I have been yearning for with most of the other CDs I've reviewed: they made me feel like they meant and believed what they were singing. Rather than sounding glassy-eyed (if you can imagine that), they took almost each track by the clefs and said "I don't care if you were someone else's song, you're mine now".
A lot of times, a CD can get mired by production choices, be it song order
or simply who sings the solo. Save for one case, I had no argument with
order, or soloist. In fact, even with the one choice I questioned, it
still sounded like it was meant for her to sing, as did all the other
songs. This CD is a treasure to have, and should be considered for every
CARA come 1998. It richly deserves recognition for an excellent effort.
Rating: 9 (7.8)
It wasn't until after I wrote this review (or until I wrote the overview)
did I know that the first track was selected for BOCA. It changed my
perspective a little bit on the group, but I don't want to skew any
opinions. The Counterparts have a fantastic jazzy repertoire, but their more
modern music is lacking a bit of creativity. The basses and percussion, for
the most part, carry the importance in their arrangements. Some soloists
are strong, some need work, but all are worthy of the solos they do.
Overall, the Counterparts are a strong a cappella group driven by jazzy
standards and creative takes on the most modern tunes.
Rating: 6 (5.8)
The Counterparts are a thirteen-member mixed group from the University of Pennsylvania. In Housekeeping they have put together a very listenable group of songs, making the most of their easy blend and jazzy character. Not all of their song choices seem initially appropriate given the group's basic sound, but by plowing ahead they leave '80s rip-offs behind and coat each morsel with a jazzy-candy-coating of their own. Thus they have a surprising range of tunes but a limited range of expression.
Again, blend is very nice. Dynamics could have been sharper: much of the album has a muted, mezzo-piano sound. Even when the group should open up and slam the harmonies on the choruses . . . they don't. I would also have liked the soloists to be stronger, just more solo: all too often they fall into the harmonies and are never heard from again.
So! A good thing to have, with however a monotone singularity of style. Mix
it up with some other groups, more upbeat, and you'll have a great time.
Rating: 7 (6.5)
There's some breaking glass (which sounds familiar — it must be either
from Billy Joel's Glass Houses or the same sound effects CD I use)
followed by an electronically distorted count down. Basically, it
works as a lead in to track one. The only small trouble with it is
that the break between Track One and Track Two comes a little
early — when you play just the second track, you can hear the fade out
of the intro.
Hey, a studio intro that is short, snappy and non-irritating. Novelty. And
it leads into a great song.
Not worth scoring-really not worth mentioning either.
A five second throwaway. Why not use some engineering for effects
in the songs themselves? Skip this silly stuff.
Well, the intro is drawn out and dull and should have been cut. The
lead makes the bit about people phoning God (the Pope, to be exact)
sound silly. But who cares! This song rules! Forget the intro.
Once soloist John R. Stephens starts singing, it's a whole new
ball game! First off, there's the nice surprise of hearing a coed
group give a women's solo to a guy (usually, it's the other way
around). But the novelty value aside, John's rich voice brings this
song to life. He finds things in the lyrics that Joan Osborn never
did. Osborn delivered the whole song with detached irony. John, on
the other hand, invests himself in the material. Sure, it still has a
offbeat, rhetorical quality, but suddenly lines like "Would you want
to see if seeing meant that you would have to believe" have MEANING.
You can sense the crisis of non-faith, of suddenly having to believe
in something so dramatically larger than yourself. Okay, so his
talent for making this song sound significant makes the more playful
lines (basically, the one about the pope calling God) sound silly (in
a bad way). But they save themselves by tossing in a SOULFUL coda.
This is a nice track. It sounds better loud. Giving the solo to John R.
Stephens was a great move — too bad it's the only time we get to hear him
sing out on this disc. Takes a song that has been played so often its
become almost as trite as the Go-Gos, slows it down, adds a hint of soul
and a respectable amount of improv. Great cover, with the interpretation
that phrase implies. (And no I haven't heard TAFKAP do his version and
this could be a straight-up imitation of that. But it's not the tired Joan
Osborne version, which is what matters to me.)
A very subtle opening that, if you didn't read the track listings, you
would never have known that it was this Joan Osborne number. In actuality,
this sounds like a cover of a cover done by The Artist (or Prince, or
TAFKAP; whatever flavor he's known by). So, while it's not COMPLETELY
original in its arrangement, there are too many things that went right with
this arrangement. John Stephens' solo is what I've been looking for as
having heart. There was true emotion put into it. The women's parts had
an incredible layered texture underneath the solo. I even liked the subtle
doubling of the refrain by the baritone. The only fault I had with this is
that there were no liner notes to go with the words in the bridge. It
sounds incredible. You want an opening? You got an opening!!
It's not often that you hear an a cappella group take a really popular
song and completely re-do it so it sounds very little like the original.
Kudos to the Counterparts for doing this. When the soloist comes in,
however, the group loses its tuning. The high "ahs" sound too abrasive and
seem responsible for bringing the pitch. Excellent smooth percussion in
this song. There's a great breakdown in the middle of the song which leads
back into the chorus- really creative and original as well. Overall- this
was a good sound and song to begin the album.
I happen not to like this song. I do like this rendition of it,
once it has edged past the beginning and the tuning has locked on. One thing
to notice right away, one of my favorite things about this group: they sing
together, seamlessly. Like a family. Brrr. The soloist is appropriate for this
song, sort of soulful but more reflective. Nice shimmery build-ups into the
chorus. Light percussion keeps it going but doesn't come across cheesy.
What is it about a cappella that makes George Michael sound so darn
good? Maybe it's that it authenticates his soul and makes him more
human. It's only a matter of time before BOCA does a CD of nothing
but George Michael covers! And I'm sure this slice of breathy, '70s
influenced soul music will fit in nicely. It's a bit too thin at
times but even that shortcoming lends the track a laid back groove.
This song is a good example of how the Counterparts pick good pop
songs that are still off the beaten path. They're not especially
obscure, but chances are this album will expose you to some new music.
Not as engaging a song as the one that precedes it. It's an r&b-ish song,
one of those numbers without a strong hook or melody that sort of blends
in on itself. Bass/percussion has a nice groove to it, and their sound
quality is decent too. The women are thin, and flatten out a bit on the
long notes, but when they get a moving line with a few words they do well
and blend well. Effects at the very end would not be my choice.
Nice transition in the CD from a hard soulful arrangement, to this silky
R&B number from George Michael. This has a quiet cool about it. The
harmonies in the back don't overtake Gabe Aherne's solo which is sung
almost as a monologue; it's that easygoing. This track doesn't hit you
over the head with every well-arranged part yet you can appreciate every
part with the effortless blend that goes on here. Didn't really need the
studio tweaking that it got, but it certainly didn't upset the apple cart
Great 'ethereal' sound to the beginning of this song. No one sounds like
they're pushing or oversinging, which I noticed a lot of groups do. When a
group of men are singing on the words with the soloist, they seem to rush
it. This song is really jazzy, and the soloist has a lot of soul. It's a
comfort to hear someone not push, and simply express the words of the song.
The arrangement really reflects what the song is about; fast love. It's sexy.
Emotive beginning, losing some force as the song continues. I don't
like the "oo-oo, baby-baby"'s. While well sung, it has the sound of cheap
porn, and musically seems just to end when tired of itself. The solo line
is scattered, although the soloist does his best with it. Still, a fine
blend . . . perhaps too smooth . . . I can't really gauge the effect the
group is going for here.
The arrangement never gets too complicated but the harmonies and the
overall sound still nice and thick. If only there was a bit more
screaming. The backing vocals don't wail enough (although they sort
of pick up at the end.) The dynamics do build, but you still wish
they'd push them a bit farther. You know the group can do it (just
listen to the backing vox on Everybody Wants to
Rule the World for proof). If only they cut loose on this,
it might have been in the same class as the
Amalgamates' Man in the Mirror.
My favorite part of this arrangement is the unvoiced percussion line that
grooves along through it. It's slower than we associate with this song,
it's smooth and varied, not just a 2-4 drum kick. Nice. The rest of the
song is straight and kinda boring, though the arrangement tries to freshen
it up in places — credit uniarranger Dennis B. La. Nice "soul duet" (as
they call it) toward the end too. Intro with just the ladies sounds nice,
and I do like the movement "it's like an angel." Otherwise it sounds like
it's trying to be a Janet Jackson song — maybe better than Madonna, but
still not gonna send me spinning.
An often-arranged track; starts out slowly, as if in prayer, but the words
seem too choppy when dragged out in that fashion. In a bit of studio
editing, Denise Sandole duets with herself (I know it's used in music
today, but come on, there are six other women in the group, let someone
else have a turn). Not that her efforts are bad, quite the contrary. It's
well sung. I especially liked the choral feel about half way through.
It's about here that I noticed the Counterparts liked to be subtle with
their percussion. Sounded nice, but the basses were too subtle in trying
to set the beat. Enchanting as it was, it didn't quite meet the first two
songs' quality, yet it is still quite good.
This one isn't that strong, and I won't let my usual "start with the nice
stuff" get in the way. The soloist sounds flat and stays at the same
dynamic level throughout the song. Some of the "ahs" underneath the slow
soloist are really out of tune. Something about the percussion and the bass
line reminds me too much of "One of Us" and the two songs should be
separated more in the album. I wasn't too impressed with this song because
of tuning. The entire song doesn't really go out of tune, but way too many
of the chords take too long to settle to be a really solid tune for the
Excellent choice! What I said generally applies very much here:
the group takes a song that could simply be cheese overdone '80s schlock
and tells it to you in their own words. I am convinced by the backing voices,
and by the percussion. Engineering again, however: the whole thing sounds
muted; am I listening to a group sing in one of those anechoic chambers?
An honest tenderness to the soloist rounds it out. Good!
The counterparts do jazz well. Unlike most pop groups singing the
occasional jazz standard, it never seems like a token effort. But at
least in this case, it does seem rather passionless and dull. The
solo is solid, the backing vocals (daaah) are competent, the light
percussion adds a little life to the affair, but it doesn't add up to
anything. A rather unengaging song choice from a group that's
normally adept at picking songs.
The intro highlights the thin sound of the women — I would wish for a
fuller sound, more on top of the pitch. The tune overall has a nice
ballroom feel to it, from a cha-cha to fox trot and back again. Solo is
A definite departure for this CD, it starts slow, then picks up with a
bossa nova type beat. It definitely shows breadth of repertoire that the
Counterparts can so ably transition between top 40 and R&B to jazz. I
don't normally appreciate jazz like this, since I found it to be in
somewhat of a Prozac state in comparison, but I also think it is quite
good for its style. Well done.
This song has a very professional sound to it for many reasons. The
arrangement, the soloist, the vowels and syllables chosen, the dynamics, and
the balance between voice parts. They're all great. Even though they
"cheat" and use some kind of woodblock, it's O.K. in my book.
Jazz all the way through, and here the group shows its true colors.
They sound born to sing such music, with a soloist very reminiscent of some
of the greats; this makes me wish they had sung "Mack the Knife". Nice
percussive effects, moving beyond the typical pfft and doosht with some
realistic other sounds. A progressive loosening of the mood but not the
musicality keeps it interesting.
Dennis La does some great arrangements, to be certain. It's a bit
disappointing when he finally steps up to the plate to take a solo.
His voice is on the thin side, particularly on the first verse or two.
As the arrangement builds energy (and volume), this becomes less of a
distraction, mostly because the group puts their all into singing the
backing vox. Check out the "da da!"s that punctuate the arrangement.
It shouldn't be an effective syllable to drive a crescendo with, but
they attack the notes and really sell them. It's that extra bit of
energy that's missing from the otherwise superior "Like a Prayer."
Soprano thinness on the opening ooh highlights exactly what was bothering
me about the previous number; it crops up periodically in this song. Once
the song heads into the main riff, it's not so bad — maybe because the
alto line becomes the dominant female line. The men have a lovely sound,
very round and constant, that rings. This album needs more resonance,
overall. I also like the tenor accent on the choruses. They also get a
point for not being as annoying as the tears for
fears original — their smoothness appeals to me even as it loses something
from the original.
I originally saw this on the track list and I worried because it was one I
really wanted to see a group do, would I like it?
Yes. The opening deserved the little tweaking in the studio it got, made
for a solid opening. When I first heard the verse and chorus, I was taken
aback, it was as driving as I remembered. After further review, I saw it
as a forlorn track that really tugged at my '80s childhood heart strings. I
really liked Dennis La's solo and the driving background vocals. I wish
they would credit the arrangers, because this is the fourth time that
I felt they should take a bow. [Ed. note: Dennis La is credited
as having arranged all of the songs on the album.] Only problem
for me were the need for the scat, pretty as it was. Just seemed out
of place. Start to finish, another excellent track.
I was impressed by the beginning of this song until the soloist got lost
in the shuffle around the bridge. The engineer obviously didn't catch this,
or maybe it was the effect they were looking for. Although there aren't any
major flaws in this song, the soloist was a little boring. He never seemed
to sing to his full capacity, almost as if he were holding back for a
particular section. An a cappella song can be musically great but still
make a listener uninterested.
The '80s rears its ugly head! As usual, the Counterpoints give us their own
take on the music, rendering it in their own terms: shimmering bell-tones
in the backing voices, syncopated higher voices, light VP. Again, though,
I could ask for stronger renditions of the choruses. A nice change in the
backing voices from "dum" to "dah" to text. The bridge is a little shallow,
and the song seems to take longer than it should.
Fun, fun, fun! A pop tune that feels April-fresh despite the retro
'70s groove! Wow. Go Jameriqui! Go Counterparts! This is what
happens when you do a good job of matching the song to the group
covering it. Check out the bass line. Check out the cool "robot"
solos. Check out the killer leads vocals by Tracy Greenberger.
Ignore the fact that gender-switching the solo makes no sense because,
in the end, it makes no difference. This song kicks booty!
Disco. Neat. Not as well executed as the other stuff — sounds pitchy
throughout, but it starts with nice energy. I'm much more interested in
hearing it, which should count for something. It's really a shame that the
energy fades away as the song progresses. I don't know the original at
all, but I like that a female solo is singing about this wonderful woman
(who's line is sung by a man), though after the first verse she loses
'tude. Oh, and the Madonna "Lucky Star" overlay is just wimpy. Really
wimpy. Needs some snaps and some style, but so does the whole song.
OK, first thing: I have a problem with the choice of soloist, or more
appropriately the gender. Tracy Greenberger does an admirable job, but
having seen Jamiroquai originate it and listening to the lyrics, it just
didn't make editorial/directorial sense. In the end, I liked the track too
much to let that get in the way.
The "bops" at the beginning were a bit hokey, but thankfully soon gone and
replaced by the intricate background. Arranger? Who is it? Well done.
EXCEPT why is it tainted by Madonna's Lucky Star
this track would've stood
up on it's own quite well without the Material Girl tainting the Cosmic
Girl. Lost a point for that.
The important parts in this song are the basses, the percussion, and the
soloist. Everything else isn't confident or important enough. Some of the
transitions are rough and almost sound as if they were edited together.
There's a cute addition of the Madonna song "Lucky Star" which has a great
play on words. "She's just a cosmic girl living in another galaxy." The
best part of this song is that certain sounds, like the soprano "bwoo"
really imitate 'cosmic' sounds.
This makes me think of surrealist films from the '80s, with the
soloist almost narrating over the trippy other voices. Finally I can hear
the bass doing his grumbly bass thing, and overall dynamics have much
improved, with an actual dynamic! Some uncertainties in tuning during the
bridges? The careful use of different syllables for different voices gives
a solid impression of different instruments. The final minute or so is
a little too same-old, just drifting on.
Soloist Maria Demaio does a great job of swaggering her way through
this song. She knows she doesn't have to belt the whole thing to be
emotional. She has a special talent for being totally relaxed, even
casual with the material, almost as if she were totally detached from
the song. Almost, but not quite. Her breathy voice (breathy in the
GOOD way) reveals the emotions underneath. The only downside to her
solo is that her diction tends to take a back seat to the overall tone
of the song.
Soloist could be mixed higher — the solo line is clearly the only thing
interesting about this song, so let's hear it. Percussion line is boring
and a little distracting, overall dynamics are rather nice, more variation
than you usually get out of college. (Side note — when the sopranos get a
middling high line, they sound better than they have since the opener.)
Back to the solo — she's very good and very imitative. Personally, I wish
original artist Fiona Apple didn't sound quite so much like she's just
smoked a half pack and is singing with Mick Jagger lips, I wish our cover
soloist hadn't been quite so true and had morphed that into a more
attractive huskiness. But maybe I'm missing the point. By the way,
with the minor exception of the final chord, the last chorus is a very
I'm not familiar with Fiona Apple's work, but I was intrigued by this Jazz
Dance type number (at least that's how the arrangement felt). This
definitely slows the pace of the CD. Maria Demaio's solo was full of a
quiet intensity that could have easily been over or underbalanced with the
group; instead it rides the fence skillfully. As a whole, while intriguing
it didn't seem as moving as Fast Love did
in putting the point across. I liked this track, just not as much.
I like Fiona Apple, but as a cappella? I will admit, I have toyed with
the idea of arranging "Criminal" for my all female a cappella group, but
Shadowboxer is slow and repetitive. If there were great, funky chords in
this song it could've been better, but the music itself (totally
disregarding the a cappella group) isn't a powerful song. There wasn't much
that the group did in 4 minutes, but the soloist did an excellent song
capturing Fiona Apple's style of singing.
My first reaction is "soloist is too buried", but she picks it up
a little. A slow entrance entices, with a key change announcing something
else to happen . . . and it builds . . . oh, wow . . . lush sound on the
chorus makes it all worth while. Very full, resplendent use of the twelve
voices, the soloist telling her tale. I have a hard time imagining this
in concert, but it fills out the disc wonderfully.
If I had a nickel for every time I said the a song was good except for
the intro, or didn't get interesting until the last 30 seconds, well,
I'd be able to afford a down payment on a CD. Well, here's a song
where the only part that really works is the intro! It starts with
the women singing in unison (you know the song) and then a bass comes
in with an interesting "hmmmm, hmmmm" line that sounds like the songs
engines are just revin' up and ready to go. But it doesn't go
anywhere. It's lifeless. The spoken word section ("and now it's time
for a breakdown") is so stiff that it actually throws the song into
This is a damn hard song to cover, and as such an easy one to criticize.
They do much better than usual, but I still feel obliged to pick at it -
it's not a song that gives much leeway. Opens nicely, and male accents are
really nice (too bad you have to listen for them). The soloists do a decent
job, but on the higher parts (the bridges, I think) they fall into the
usual sorts of traps — the one gets hooey, the other is better for the
song but has a thin tone. But hey, we can't all have Aretha Franklin's
range, not even En Vogue. By the first internal chorus the song starts to
get old — arranger makes the next verse somewhat interesting, but it can't
quite fight the repetition. Ooh, and the breakdown is a too choral, and
then the abrupt ending — the intro was the same line, and pulled off much
First-WHY? This has been done so many times, in part or in whole, was it
necessary to do it AGAIN. (Whew, got that out — on with the review)
Opening had a Glee Club feel, like Cheesy-Grin type "Hi, we're the
Counterparts" kind of feel. Basses also felt kind of naked (vocally!! Come
on now.) Thank goodness it didn't last long. Nice addition of
Blackstreet's "No Diggity" into the beginning. It's sung well, but
robotically, save for the solos-"No-your-nev-er-gon-na-get-it". It also
feels slow, which does detract from the track. Then after the solos, we
head back to Cheese-Land. It just felt like they missed the mark and only
made an average track here.
There's a great (and I mean GREAT) beginning to this song with the "never
gonna get" repeated. The basses coming in with a cheesy "dum-badum" right
after threw me for a loop, but then it settled in after the second time I
heard it. This song is the finest example of their arranger's skills. A
snippet of "No Diggity" is thrown in several times, only heard by the most
attentive ear. (mine, of course included) There are other bits and pieces
thrown in that even I couldn't figure out after four or five listens.
Definitely one of the best songs on their album, despite a few shaky
Um . . . a little carnivalish in the harmonies, simply too many
voices bracketed by unconvincing attempts at soul . . . very scattered.
Somehow everyone seems to stand out, especially the bass. In all fairness,
the group does it well when they relax into their own sound and forget
about the original . . . something they should have remembered during the
bridge and the "breakdown", where their easy harmonizing serves to muck
up the works. In all, it sounds like an easy listening rendition of the
Divas, a lounge act more than a sexy send-off.
It takes so little to make me happy. If you're going to sing someone
else's song, you don't have to reinvent it (although that wouldn't
hurt). You just have to believe in the song. You have to relate to
it on an emotional level. Or you at least have to be a good enough
actor to sound like you do. Denise Sandole's solo on this pretty Lisa
Loeb cover has sincerity written all over it. If you want proof, just
list to what she does with the last "You say . . . stay." You know
the one. She changes it slightly to "You say . . . oh baby, stay."
"Oh baby" may not sound like a deep lyric, but it speaks volumes here.
It makes it her song. The only thing wanting on this version is that
the solo and the arrangement could us more drive on the "I turn the
radio on" section.
This is very nice. Beats the Lady Blue version of a few years ago,
which won some notice. Solo is light without sounding flat (yay),
tempo is slow but it moves. The arrangement shadows the solo nicely.
The background is a little drenched in studio effects for my taste.
What sold me on this song was the vocalization of the guitar, or more
accurately how it was arranged. The solo seemed slightly mechanical, like
she was trying to match it to the beat. It just didn't seem as spontaneous
as the original, which was the appeal of the song in the first place for
me. Nevertheless, Denise Sandole did manage to keep the song driving right
through. The track did seem to slow down in some open spots during the
refrain, or what there is of one for this song, not sure if it's arranger
error, or temporary vocal let down, either way it was brief. Not a great
track, but on the other hand it supports the album well.
Underneath the verse "And I thought what I felt was simple" there are
missing notes in the chords which make it seem like an empty arrangement.
More notes are added in, but the fullness that the Counterparts have on
other songs is missing here. This song, again, is weighted more on the bass
and percussion than most a cappella songs should be.
Very faithful to the original, almost to a fault in terms of the
soloist whose little-girl voice is perhaps too nice. Smooth but boring.
Here's a solo that totally lacks any sort of emotional commitment to
song. Where is the strange mix of desperation, defeat, and devotion
that the lyrics call for? Gone. Missing in action. But WHO CARES?
The lyrics real job is to be clever and catchy. This is an upbeat
reading of this jazz standard and it swings! It's finger snappin'
good. It's the only jazz song on this album that really belongs.
Not as nice as their other big band number. A little too fast, wimpy
arrangement, unremarkable solo, though he does sound like a friendly and
charismatic guy. Walking bassline sounds nice, though.
The big band classic (or how I remember it). Jazzed up. It's a great
track, just too short. Maybe it was done too fast, because I really liked
Sloan Alexander's interpretation of the melody. Everything was there, I
just wish more of it was there.
The soloist has a vibrato that pulls down his pitch. It's common, but it
should have been caught in recording. He drops the ends of his words and
phrases. Something as simple as snapping helps this song move along and
keeps your foot tapping. The song, in my perspective, borders "ultra
cheesy" when the soloist sings "Come back" and the women speak/shout "come
back." But, this song still has a fun, lively feel.
Easy swing, with a smooth bari on lead, ably aided by his band.
Nice also in that it is short, making its point and letting something else
have a go.
In a word: Forgettable. A Manhattan Transfer style blending on an
unengaging melody. Did they already cover all the good jazz songs
A nice ballad — takes too long to figure out where it's going. But I
applaud them for picking something a little less conventional — most of
this repertoire is the height of accessibility. I find the production stuff
masks the singing more than I'd like, and I think it could be a little
lighter. But there are some nice chords here, no pitch problems that
really get on my nerves.
A heartfelt remembrance of a childhood friend, or lost relative perhaps.
It would've been a great ballad, if not for the overbalanced responses of
the women to Dennis La's lines. This falls into a sort of jazz that I
appreciate far more than Autumn Leaves, and it comes off well. A beautiful
track that is a nice transition from the upbeat "All of Me" before it.
The soloist and accompanying background have a pattern throughout this
song. He sings a line, and they repeat the words. The phrases that are
repeated by the background are sloppy in pitch and rhythm, and they don't
have any expression. I think this is a weak arrangement, alternating women
singing with men. Even though there are intriguing dissonant chords, the
dynamics within the voice parts aren't even, so it sounds like the sopranos
have an important part backed up by everyone else. A fair song, but nothing
sparkling like other ones on the album.
Very emotive, very touching. A sweetness in the solo is met by
the group's typically smooth backing, melting together for a sad ballad.
A change of mood occurs early on, the harmonies jazzing up a good deal,
the bass walking his way around. Still, very focused and effective.
They had a really great idea. They sing the first verse in somber
tones, as if it were an alternative song from the
"Life-sucks-and-I-just-don't-care" school of alternative music. Then,
when they hit the line, "Okay, I made this up" they shift to the
significantly more upbeat (but still a bit dreary) spirit of the song.
It's like they're saying, "Just kidding. We're not that depressed.
We were just posing." There's even a subtle laugh in there. It's
very interesting. But the idea ultimately doesn't work because of a
clumsy transition between the first verse and the rest of the song.
The tempo sort of slurs up to speed.
When the fast tempo comes in, the song gets going really nicely. Energy,
nice solo, decent arrangement — almost makes me forget I've never liked
this song. The end of the song is arranged very well. Good job keeping the
intensity up. Not my choice to end the album, (too much the momentum
building ballad, not the leave in a good mood track) but a nice cut.
Like Track #2, it starts out in a way that you would
never have known it was this Sheryl Crow tune. Starting with Ty
Stiklorius on something akin to an alcoholic daze, it never lets on
that it's going to pick up in speed, intensity, and pride. The
arrangement AGAIN goes uncredited when it's owner should be
wearing a tag saying "I did this, and gosh darn it, it made
ME happy". I got chills at every transition and how easy the
Counterparts were able to move through this track without getting
bogged down in balancing problems. This CD ends exactly as it begins:
How interesting and ear-catching (if that's a word) to have a ballad
arrangement of this song. It seems more like an Indigo Girls song. But, as
soon as the soloist hits the words "Ok- I made this up" it picks up to the
regular tempo. It was better before the tempo pickup. The chords that the
sopranos/altos sing are in need of a tune-up. Right on the word "bad" the
chord is, well, bad. The soloist does a good interpretation, but it seemed
like she had a frog in her throat on many notes. When one realizes how
monotonous Cheryl Crow's song is, you're thankful that the group had a new
approach to the beginning.
I love the ease of sound this group can produce,
harmony without apparent effort. This song opens in full flush of
that, a gentle lead-in to the unfortunately shrill force of the song
proper. The soloist is more in her element upstairs than down,
letting go just in time for the other voices to slam in around her.
Still, the group has a hard time with any driving feel, ending up
instead with something more like a game show theme mode.
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