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This album was reviewed by five members of
RARB. In this compilation, their comments are
always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the
"overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same
reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.
This is the most enjoyable all-female a cappella album I've
heard so far. The tracks are well sung with lots of musical
interest in the arrangements. I'd like to see a bit more
variety, a little reaching out from the late eighties, early
nineties pop ethic, but at least they do what they do well.
The scores would all be a point or so higher if I felt stronger
about some of the ensemble work. I'm hard pressed to point out
any specific intonation problems, but there are sections that
don't quite gel, blends that don't quite work, entrances that
seem ever so slightly staggered. There are some a cappella
albums where the group is so tight, so together that you have
no doubt that the next chord will be as tightly together as the
previous one. I never got that feeling with this album, but
both the quality of the material and the singing make it well
worth listening to.
Rating: 7 (6.4)
The Greenleafs have again shown that they are still a good, strong
group. It is easy to see (or hear) that they are really working
together as a group. There is so much more to making good music
than just having a bunch of pretty voices, and they seem to have
all the necessary components. They really shine brightly when
working with a good arrangement. Part of what makes them good
overall is the fact that they have good, tight choral blend and
style when singing all together, as well as having some strong
soloists. This gives rise to versatility, which is evident in
the decent selection of songs and performance styles presented on
Rating: 7 (6.8)
A more-or-less completely typical all-female group (except for
their surprisingly low alto II's, who are unused in half the
songs and wasted in the other half), the Greenleafs have a
decent ensemble sound which is not shown to its best advantage
by their boring arrangements and only slightly better than
average song choice. Their soloists are almost uniformly
unmemorable, and I suspect that they are often aided by the
mixing, which is better than it could be but often fails to
round out their sound. But if the Greenleafs would push their
limits a little, they could be _so_ much better, as is shown by
the few moments on this album where they try something
different and/or put a little energy into their singing.
Rating: 4 (3.2)
A very fun album, the group has tons of energy and does
everything with precision and confidence. The soloists are
decent, but the strength of the group is really the ensemble
singing. Vocal percussion and other "effects" are used in an
effective manner, not overdone. They manage to sound like a
smaller group and avoid the "choir" sound that seems to plague
many college ensembles; however, there are still a few moments
where the style seems to drift toward a classical sound — some
over-enunciated lyrics and overdone vibrato. The disc is mixed
and produced well, with everything sounding natural and
The group has lots of personality — the group takes these songs
and makes them their own. The 45 minutes of music go by
quickly — when it ends, you're left wanting more. I think the
group is capable of going further than they do on this album -
I'd like to hear them try something that's a bit more of a
stretch for them, as well as some more material that isn't
heard so often.
Rating: 7 (6.7)
Earth to the Greenleafs: abandon ship! This group has some
good voices and great energy, unfortunately teamed with weak
arrangements and lousy tuning. I have never heard a group that
both sounded like they wanted to be there and had signed
contracts with as many wrong notes as the Greenleafs, and hope
I never will again. They are so earnest, and have pretty
voices but wow are there some lacking fundamentals. It's tough
to be constructively witty — it just comes off as cruel. I
hope the Greenleafs use their
CASA membership to get some
real arrangements and don't give up — it seems as though the
potential is there. I wish them luck!
Rating: 4 (4.8)
This track gets the album off on the right foot. A rich
arrangement that's very well sung. The second altos have
that slightly processed feel that I dislike greatly, but
it's not too offensive here. The choice to have the
solo sung by a section rather than an individual works
quite well. The real strength of this track lies in the
arrangement. By constantly varying and reharmonizing
the material, the track maintains intensity and interest
throughout. Great job. And "the WOMAN on the radio" is
a nice touch.
This is a good, solid group track. I like the arrangement, and the
timing is tight. Nice blend, too, most notably on the choruses.
Why would they want to do this song in the first place,
especially if the only way they can do it is jacked up so high it
sounds ridiculous? The lyrics also sound _really_ stupid when sung by
half the group. They just sing it completely soggily, with no punch
whatsoever. Arrangement emphasizes the choral sound of the
Greenleafs, which destroys whatever "alterna" appeal this song might
Very angular arrangement, with some
rhythmic surprises. On first listening, the feel seemed almost mechanical,
but once I got used to it, I liked the interpretation and the fact that it
is was so different from the original. Some nice suspended harmonies and
interesting echoing effects, with lines switching from one section to
This track starts off with a killer combo of energy and engineering to
make up for an empty arrangement. Then the solo comes in. These women
sound like they should be singing Rainbow Connection instead of Jesus
Jones — this song was not made for a double soprano solo. The choral
chords are upbeat but stem from a misguided arrangement and are not
helped when the leads go for a high note and one takes a half-beat to get
there. The energy makes it impossible to truly hate this song, but you
sure wish the arranger had a clue.
The soloist has some weird tone production occasionally, but this is competent
arrangement. The ensemble work starts getting spotty in the last chorus. The
tonality starts wandering.
This pretty song is an excellent choice, and is well done. The
arrangement is well written; multiple parts moving against each
other add complexity and fullness to the song. The soloist has
good control, and the group's percussion adds to the song without
I thought that anyone would have to sound better than
Sheryl Crow's incredibly annoying way of abusing her voice on this song,
but I was wrong. The soloist manages to top that by simultaneously trilling
and breathy-alto-not-quite-on-the-note-ifying the song in a way that gets
old after the first two lines. Arrangement at first sounds completely typical
("doo" and "bum"), but later breaks into some decent held harmonies and a
little back and forth which I rather like. I'm not sure all the invented
harmonies on the last verse work, but the laid-back percussion isn't bad.
Very true to the original, this one has an
appropriately heartbroken mood. The soprano descant part sounds a little
slippery, kind of sliding from note to note. The bell tones in the
backgrounds are too accented — they give the piece too much of a classical
feel. It's encouraging to see a group do a song that is this current.
Intro needed more dynamics to make it interesting — it needed expression
and volumes other than loud and almost-not-loud. Percussion bass line in
the chorus is effectively subtle. Solo is a mix of grunge and
classical — wish she'd pick one. The background choral vocals could have
worked if they'd been more in tune — I personally think this song could
have done well in a soft, pretty arrangement if they'd been willing to go
The first soloist has a slightly nervous sounding vibrato. The chorus feels
pretty sparse. It's always hard to figure out how to fill out those empty
spaces between lines in power choruses. I don't feel incredibly comfortable
with the blend in this one. Things start feeling pretty sloppy midway through.
Is it just me, or does the "Shadows of the Night" intro sound like
it is missing parts, particularly the high soprano part? Either way,
this song could do without this intro. Once past it, though, I like
the song. The solo is light and sweet, and the duet is pretty. The
song has energy and stays light. A good rendition.
Soloist sounds like she's about to break, she's so
quivery. Her actual voice isn't bad, but she should be singing a
weepy country ballad instead, as she totally fails to pull this song
off, especially on the chorus, which really needs to be rung out in
Benatar way, instead of disappearing into the background. Which
in itself is less than stellar — syllable lameness (all "doo's"), the
people singing the chorus are often not _quite_ in synch, and the
halfhearted percussion/bass is not on anything recognizable as a note.
Generally lacks the requisite campy energy.
The solo is a little tentative. A nice effect is
created by having the mouth percussion and rhythmic background parts drop
out at the end, letting the harmony parts stand on their own. Individuals
hang over on releases in a few spots. The soprano descant part is awkward
- the singer could be much more sure of herself.
T-t-t-t. Everybody ennunciates on the "shadows of the
night" intro-from-nowhere — too bad it wasn't together. But even
then I think it might have been intrusive. This song is in the
interpretive style of Everything But the Girl's cover of Love is
Strange — it has a lovely solo and (when in tune) the "doo"s in the
background are smooth and mellow, but there's no mistaking it for a
rock and roll song. Despite the panoply of pitch problems, I was all
set to give this song a decent rating until the end — the soprano
overlay is just too painful.
This is a nice homophonic piece with lots of pretty
thick chords. The alto-2 solo ("and every time I held a rose") has a
weird tone about it, a bit too abrupt. There are rough edges on this
one, but the beauty of the arranging shines through.
This is another group choral performance, and a great choice for a
song. This arrangement showcases the 2nd altos, which is rare but
is certainly a nice change. This track is also very well directed,
with its rich harmony and excellent use of dynamics.
Somewhat robotic rendition of the Billy Joel "favorite"
which would be improved by a) actual emotion instead of hammering on
practically every note; b) mixing the _one_ person vibratoing farther back;
and c) some human-style enunciation. I would be so much more impressed by
their man-like alto II's on this song if they weren't so _dead_. I have to
admit that this song bores me to tears, but it's not that it's badly sung here,
it's just that it fails to come across in any sort of a meaningful fashion.
I didn't think I was going to like this one, ("Not this
one _again_?"), but this version is very musical, with some great
dynamics and an arrangement that reflects musically what the lyrics
are saying. The low altos sound strained in some spots where they
have the melody, and the recording sounds a little odd — a bit phasey,
perhaps. The group could also let the song breathe — a little more
rubato would make the tune come alive even more.
Whoa. The bass line is engineered to the point of the
Singer's Unlimited — guess they really couldn't project. The
overly-digital and -prominent alto sound combines with a wimpy
beginning and shallow arrangement for a lousy song. (Favorite
phonetic moment: "you can make deee-sizh-ons toooo")
I really love the soloists voice on this one. Strong,
confident, and able. She's pretty much the only thing that makes this
track noticeable at all. It sounds vaguely like a carousel in the fog
and starts dragging on towards the end. It lacks development and
I don't have much to say about this one except that is
very well done overall. The arrangement and pace both move
quickly but are not rushed, and the solo is clear and strong.
Incredibly cheesy song, rendered in an irritating
arrangement of the usual "bum's" and "doo's", and soloist with too
much of an edge to her voice. Good alto IIs _completely_ wasted on
this song. Again, no one's actually off-pitch, they've just made some
bad choices here.
The simple beginning is appropriate for the opening
lyric: "I'd like to be a child again..." However, the bell tones get
old quickly, and the transitions to the other parts of the song are a
little rocky. A sweet, innocent, simple song — maybe just a little
too simple for my taste.
This arrangement reminds me of the arrpegiated left hand
for Jingle Bells I learned at summer camp when I was eight. 1-5-3-5,
1-5-3-5 — I can hear the painful plinking now. (Since none of you
know who I am, let me take this time to share that I don't play piano
worth a hill of beans.) Lisa Loeb-esque solo is kind of flaccid (to
borrow from one of my fellow RARBers), and the echoes in the chorus
aren't helping. This one is more in tune than the others so far but
has less to recommend it.
Ya know, it's really hard for anyone but Fred Schnider
to sing this song. In fact, I bet it's even hard for HIM to do it.
But for some reason everyone decides to take this one out for a spin.
The actual arrangement isn't that bad, but I can't imagine anyone else
getting that half spoken, half crazed quality of the original solo.
Everyone I hear who tries ends up sounding very self conscious and,
well, ridiculous. This is no exception.
In general, I think this song is overdone and highly
B52's are really not easy to duplicate, and the Greenleafs make a good attempt here. It just doesn't rock like it could, and should.
If there's anything this
exceedingly-overdone-in-a-cappella song has in spades, it's
energy. So many of the flaws of the Greenleafs version could have
been forgiven if it wasn't so slow and bored- sounding — the
unconvincing accent/voice of the woman trying to imitate Fred
Schneider, the cracking voice of the woman trying to imitate Kate
Pierson, the lame percussion... I can't even really give them credit
for trying this song because it's neither an original nor a good song
choice in the first place. The only decent part is the end.
A tough one to pull off, especially for the soloist -
the listener can't help but make comparisons to the original. The soloist
does a reasonable job of capturing the essence of the "guy" part, but there
are some lines, particularly some of the spoken ones, that come off
sounding unnatural. The vocal percussion parts are in the same register as
the low altos, which obscures the bass line somewhat — the parts get in
each other's way. The song drags on — it could have been a hair faster. I
was let down by the last chord — a bland and most non-funky triad. Hey, at
least throw in a seventh or something on the end.
Hello boys and girls — today we're going to learn about
4-4 time. See how in this song the downbeat is so carefully defined
throughout the song? See how the arrangement is kept simple so the
time signature isn't lost? Aside from that, this one grooves
respectably. It's in tune. It has some energy. The low female solo
is pretty cool. It's only slightly choral — all in all I approve.
Now if only we could get some syncopation, and ditch the bass drum
cameo towards the end.
Nice arrangment. I wouldn't sing the rhythmic figure
quite so staccato, give each note time to sound. The
soloist does a great job of pushing this one forward.
Some ensemble sloppiness, but a good listen.
This is another song which is covered too often. Its position on
the album immediately following another popular cover doesn't help
it any. This version is not bad, but the arrangement is
oversimplified, and the first bridge drags.
Again, no energy, not even from the main soloist, who is
also far too quavery. She can at least hit the high
notes, though, and she's much better than the auxiliary
soloist on the bridge, who is both blatantly flat and
has unnatural phrasing. Arrangement 99% typical both
for this song and for the group, although I like the
spiraling upward bits on the end of the chorus.
I think this song has great possibilities for a
cappella, but I haven't yet heard an arrangement
that makes the most of it. That said, this is a pretty
decent version. The opening has some nice counterpoint
(that unfortunately thins out once the soloist comes
in), and the 16th note runs are cool. It just seems
like many of the cool background lines from the original
are missing, and the texture could be a little more
delicate and ornamented, with the tempo just a bit
This is just too. Too much engineering, too much
vibrato-tinged head voice, too little diction, too simple an
arrangement. The solo does have a lovely high range and the
background runs before the chorus are accurate and cool — too bad
they are all by themselves and there is too little else in the
A neo-traditional fight song that is generally well sung
(save a few clunkers) and also generally amusing. I'd actually listen
to it again. And again. Does that make me patronizing?
This original song has got some really cute lyrics,
and I can't help but believe that the style and performance
must easily inspire school spirit. It is well written and
well sung. This song is more evidence that the group really
excels at choral work.
Strange little song to the school's women's volleyball
team, mildly cute despite the completely straight-faced way that it's
sung, and the somewhat cheesy lyrics. Musical value is questionable,
but the one part that sounds _wrong_ is probably due to someone
singing the part wrong rather than the arranger. This would be
completely acceptable as a brief interlude if the rest of the album
was more successful.
This one falls somewhere between a parody of a fight
song and a serious song of praise for the school's volleyball team.
When I first saw the list of songs, I questioned the wisdom of doing a
song specific to their school, but it works, mostly on the strength of
it's subtle humor. The arrangement is reminiscent of alma mater songs
and barbershop, but with some nice variations thrown in. A good
opportunity for the group to show some versatility.
This is musically the best put together of anything on
the album. It sounds full, it's in tune, the engineering is less
intrusive, although the imitation second-altos are once again
overstudioed. But it's a slow, choral fight song and to the most of
us who didn't go to Wash U the in-jokes are not riveting.
Another very strong soloist works very well with another
very well arranged song. Considerable harmonic interest
is generated over an insistent, obsessive bass line. I
don't know if this was intentional, but there's a great
moment after the first chorus when the ensemble is
crescendoing on "ba da"s and dovetails into the soloist
singing "But I...". Neat sound.
The call-and-answer style used in this song tends to break the song
up and is a little choppy. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed listening
to the soloist's voice. Also, a good presence of the 2nd altos -
very strong and steady.
Their alto II's can hit some decently low notes, but
their tone is all wrong for this kind of song, being far too choral.
Also there's no need to have them singing the most boring attempt at a
bass line I've heard in a long time, on "ba-na-na" no less. Some of
the harmonizing on the chorus is good, albeit predictable, but the
solo's voice is far too coy and thin, even for a
song. The background sounds awfully sparse for 15 people. The end is
both ridiculous and grating.
The tune is a little repetitive at first, but the
bridge provides a nice change of pace, finally switching from minor into
major. Syllables are enunciated too precisely, pushing the group into the
classical direction again — watch that "T" on the end of the last word -
it's the musical equivalent of poking someone in the eye.
I found myself sort of liking this one, until I thought about the
original. It's been 10 years, but I remember light energy and a bouncy
feel. This one drags — like Pat Benatar on downers. But it is in tune,
and isn't so empty, and the solo has some cool moments, so let's enjoy it
and try not to make comparisons.
Great opening! The verses do a great job of keeping an
driving to the chorus. Unfortunately, the chorus is taken an octave
lower than we want it to be, and the effect is intensely
anti-climactic and unsatisfying. For some reason the altos are
singing the rhythmic figure during the chorus as "doos" while the
sopranos sing what sounds like "bah". Despite the difficulty in
livening up the verse, the chorus works after we grow to accept the
register it's in. I think I like it better than the original. (Which
doesn't say much.)
What a great beginning to this song! And a great song
choice, too. Nice use of the wide range of voices in the
group. I just like it. It's that simple. You just have to
The beginning of this song is by far the best thing on
this entire album, actually managing to sound convincing (granted it's
a song for a
movie, but still), and in the process almost convincing me that
one of them is secretly a member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It's
also really well mixed. But then the girly-sounding soloist comes in,
and all is white-bread again. But it goes to show that the Greenleafs
could really kick some butt if they got some decent soloists and/or
Great opening — the ethnic vibe is right on target. The
group sounds exceptionally full and rich — for a second, I thought the
group had snuck in some male voices. The soloist seems like she's
singing a Broadway show tune (yeah I know, it's
Disney, which puts it in the show
tune vicinity), but a more pop-like style would work better with the
African background parts.
Cool intro. Slightly percussive feel, a true second alto presence for the
first time ever on this album. The arrangement is not overwhelming —
having found one rhythm it can overlay over a whole background, it does
so the _whole song_ but it's only a problem in the chorus. Way to improve
on a lousy song choice (the original is sort of trite and tepid, eh?)
Clever arranging again. The soprano line is stated once
without any harmonic reference. Taken alone it is very hard to
discern the key. Four measures later when the melody comes in with
the rest of the ensemble providing the key, we hear the same line in
an entirely different context. Simple and effective. Much like the
rest of the arrangement. The bulk of the material is presented in a
simple, homophonic style while scattered solo voices constantly
embellish what the group is singing.
I feel that this song does not lend itself well to
a cappella to begin with, since the original was heavy
and monotonous. So it is not entirely the fault of the
Greenleafs if the melody gets a little lost on the choruses,
and if the tempo and the timing are especially difficult to
recognize at the beginning of the song.
I like the beginning, despite the gulping attempt at
bass which is again, not really on the pitch, but then it loses energy and
becomes more of the same. Parts of the arrangement are decent, but it relies
too much on unison, which I think often sucks the emotion out of songs
unless it's _really_ well done.
I liked the vocal percussion, especially on
the intro. Not bad overall — I don't really have any complaints, the song
just didn't keep me interested.
The intro made me think we were going to have two good
songs in a row, but then the choral, empty, dead verses came in. I
applaud their attempts to add percussion and an interesting Vinxesque
soprano line, but she doesn't have a strong enough voice to carry the
song. The phrasing is also rather forced and harmonically repetitive.
Argh. I must admit I'm biased against this song. I
just don't like it. I always think of it as the female counterpart to
by the Dashboard Light in it's stereotypical handling of
gender roles. Yuck. This arrangement doesn't do much with it either.
It's a bare bones, choral "doos" presenting the harmonic background
over a competent solo line kind of thing. Generic and uninspiring.
And that's not just because I don't like the song.
Well, I really liked the choice of song — it is a blast from the
past which brought back some fond memories, and one of my personal
favorites from the 80's. Unfortunately, they sort of drop the ball
on this one. The solo is obviously trying hard, but is very heavy.
And for the rest of the group, the notes are there, but the song
just doesn't flow.
Soloist wavers around the pitch and scoops
violently in its general direction most of the time, and she's not really in
enough control of her voice to be very pleasant to listen to. They get some
points for leaving the song in the original key, however. Arrangement is
mildly screechy in parts, and the altos are not used as well as they could be
- as soon as they get down low enough to be effective they are immediately
yanked back up into the muddy middle range.
A nice arrangement with interesting
harmonies, but the performance isn't as spotless as some of the other
songs. The soloist seems to be straining at times and has some pitch
problems, as do the low altos.
Ooh-wee. Back to the original tuning. Solo is vamping; I find it
ineffectively melodramatic. As the song moves on, the phrasing becomes
more and more stilted and overly ennunciatory. Chorus has some interesting
things going on, but empty and overused as they are it comes off like
muzak for the Ice Capades more than anything.
Parts of this are much better and more energetic than
the whole rest of the album — the chorus of
"Freedom '90", which almost rocks, and a
better beginning of "We Belong", in
particular. Most of the rest is lame, but who cares?
It's not supposed to be taken seriously, but again it
demonstrates that they have more talent than is in
evidence on this recording.
This track is a riot — even though it's a conglomeration
of tunes that have become cliche from overuse, I still
found myself wishing I could hear the group do more than
just the snippets performed here.
Overused a cappella 101 — strangely more in tune
than most of the album, a few of these snippets are
actually ok. Some are dismal, most are there. Overall,
I can't blame them for including it, particularly if it
makes them happy.