At a recent Vocal Point a cappella concert, audience members found it hard to believe, just as the group had claimed, that all the percussion sounds were truly done with just the human voice.
People were heard debating as they left whether some instruments had indeed been used. One woman confidently said she’d heard drums backstage before the concert began, proving voices alone couldn’t have made that authentic sound.
However, James Stevens, director and producer of the group’s newest album, “Back in Blue: Maximum A Cappella,” assures that the complex percussion found on the album is truly just the human voice, aided with a throat mic here and there.
“Back in Blue” is the eighth album in the group’s 20-year history. This is not your grandpa's a cappella: The songs are contemporary, the rhythms are catchy and the harmonies energetically rendered. The album is being released by Tantara Records, BYU’s music label.
It’s impossible to listen to these songs without tapping your feet or moving to the beat. All the songs are family friendly. Most are up-tempo, but there is balance in the inclusion of the more contemplative “Lead Kindly Light”, “Remember When it Rained” and “We All Need Saving.”
All the songs on the album were arranged by group members or Stevens and sung by Vocal Point groups from 2007 to 2010.
Vocal Point does its signature versions of the popular “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, “Hip to Be Square,” “The Nicest Kids in Town” from “Hairspray,” “September” and several others.
“Telephone Opera” will be a listener favorite. Sounding like something from Gilbert and Sullivan, it has hilarious words from former member Mike Lemon about a modern dilemma: being rejected in dating. The inspiration for it came from a Muppets musical skit.
“Game Day” is a medley with segments of several sports songs. “Lead, Kindly Light” is sung by members of groups from all the three years featured on the CD.
There’s not a track in the group that’s a dud. The invigorating songs stay on one’s mind long after listening.
In March, Vocal Point won first place in the west regional semifinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. The group will compete with the five other regional winners on April 16 in the finals in New York City. Vocal Point won the competition in 2006.
Judy Fraser is a freelance writer who enjoys good music.