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Clef Hangers

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Pray - Single (2018)


June 22, 2018

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Kimberly Raschka Sailor

The storied Clef Hangers like to sing big: huge voices, huge volume. With a talent boost from NC State’s gospel group Uninhibited Praise, the Clefs are shaking speakers again with Pray.

The special collaboration from a Sunday Best-style choir gives Pray serious presence and enormous weight. Sam Smith’s lyrics demand as such (“everyone prays in the end”), and the Clefs were wise to partner with a group whose soulful singing focuses on high-octane spirituals. In an unexpected way, it's almost problematic: the choir sounds so strong, and so majestic, I wish a few voices crossed into the solo line’s space for lead mic interaction. Perhaps a spotlight duet or two along the way. The Clef on the lead line, Jordon Reynolds, is quite spectacular in his own right, however. You’ll hear his full range (and what a range), enough riffs to fill all the pews, and charisma that overflows down the aisles. 

It’s the wish part that I come back to from time to time. With this many voices to feature, the Clefs didn’t have to stick so closely to Sam Smith’s original, but the chart's skeleton is nearly identical. The biggest opportunity worth exploring has to do with rhythm, since who better to manipulate the pulse than a gospel choir? Yet we have the same unwavering side-step groove pattern, and a largely unchanging drum kit that could have connected with the lead’s very human emotions more keenly. The voices are spectacular, definitely deserving of the excellent rating, but the arrangement innovation isn’t as bold.

The Clefs find continued success, and new singing partners, with Pray. 

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