Don't Wake Me Up - Single (2018)
Review By Kimberly Raschka Sailor
January 18, 2019
Stanford Counterpoint selected excellent source material with Don’t Wake Me Up. The original, penned and performed by British musician Lianne La Havas, is a haunting indie r&b piece with enticing harmonies and instrumentation. Despite La Havas’ restrained delivery, it’s overflowing with personality: there’s a permeating sadness, a quiet desperation that just stays with you, centered on lyrics from an unhappy lover.
The Counterpoint ladies tried to capture this atmospheric essence, but weren’t totally successful in their recording. The group’s interpretation still sounds unique in our typical uptempo pop-centric a cappella sphere, but the voices don’t have the weight and panache heard in the original. Without this strong framework, instead of a haunting vibe, we get a sleepy, slightly sluggish feel. The arrangement is solid. The production is lovely, and creates marked moments, especially the retro-sounding bookends of the piece. But neither the background nor the lead gives us a memorable enough vocal performance. It’s cleanly sung, but I’d quickly trade that for a lot more drama and vulnerability across each part.
Still, I remain excited about a song off the beaten path that befits a women’s a cappella group so well. I hope this group continues to perform music that showcases excellent songwriting.