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I Wouldn't Be - Single (2022)


Review By Nicholas Wright

July 28, 2022

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Nicholas Wright

I wouldn't be who I am, without you
I wouldn't sing the way I sing, without you

A lone voice greets us at the beginning of I Wouldn't Be, the latest song from award-winning Irish vocal ensemble Ardú. The melodic line evokes a longing for familial connection and friendship, drawing on a deep sense of homesickness within just the first few notes. I Wouldn't Be builds gently throughout the first minutes, moving from solo to trio to quartet to sextet. Mostly homophonic textures, I particularly enjoy the treatment of words like su(n), a(m), and ca(n). The production, by mixing engineer Angela Ugolini and mastering engineer Bill Hare, is rarely distracting and for the most part hardly even noticeable, allowing the listener to focus solely on the words and singers themselves.

The track is a mostly transcriptive arrangement, based on the original by Irish rock band Kodaline. Arranged by Ardú artistic director Ciarán Kelly, the arrangement feels as though it was built around his voice — and for good reason. This song selection was an ideal match for his peaceful, assuring tone. I Wouldn't Be expertly showcases the ensemble's restraint and control, resulting in a track that is equally as technically impressive as it is emotionally sublime. My only complaint, from an arranging perspective, would be the use of "doo" in the last minute of the track. The "d" cuts through an otherwise lush texture in a way that pulls me right out of this most critical moment in the song.

I Wouldn't Be ends much in the same way that it starts, with a duet that will bring you to tears if you weren't already there. For more exposure to Ardú, look for the group's new album, Songs From Here.


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