Fear - Single (2016)
Review By Kimberly Raschka Sailor
June 15, 2016
Exit 245 gives us the ideal single with Fear: an earworm of an inspirational song led by soaring, shining vocals that'll make listeners yearn for more from the group. The mass market appeal doesn't get much higher.
Close your eyes and remember an a cappella concert where the whole audience connected with a song — it was upbeat, it was powerful, the lyrics were awesome, the drumming was tight and legit, the arrangement kept unfolding to add sizzle and punch, and the smokin' soloist evoked whoops and hollers when he flipped up in his register to drive it home. Your friends screamed and clapped with satisfaction when the song was over.
Now you can have a similar experience with this recording of Ben Rector's Fear. Arranger Peter Barber gets a tip of the hat for penning a work for his singers at hand — everyone's part sounds like it's actually meant for their voice range and coloring, which isn't common in collegiate a cappella. I'm especially smitten with the huge risky octave splits and thoughtful voice leading. A song that could have easily turned out very blocky and repetitive, with lots of seams showing from all of the string plucking in the original, simply never does under Barber's care. We also have the magic of James Gammon to thank for the vocal varnish on top; I'm forever impressed with the atmospheric soundscapes he creates, and Fear is as beautiful as any piece he's enhanced. Lastly, soloist David Pumphrey gives this whole song an enchanted, folk-rock kind of vibe that I suspect you'll have no complaints with. I love his control, and emotive musicality when the words demand creating a moment for the listener.
Fear is a wonderful release, and if it's demonstrative of the work Exit 245 is currently producing, this is a great era for the group.