King's Singers

From the Heart

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If you're viewing this CD in an online listing, be aware that it's something like an EP, with a five-song, 20-minute program. The a cappella vocal group the King's Singers have released several of these, and as long as you know what you're getting, any of them might make good introductions to aspects of the group's style. Some sector of their diverse repertory will necessarily be missing, and here it's the music of the Renaissance. But there is a nice mix of contemporary pieces with crossover and pop material, including an especially good example of the sextet's ability to execute unexpected transfers of instrumental textures to a cappella vocals. The King's Singers say that they recently discovered "the wonders of Bluegrass music," partly because one of them married an American woman, but it's not the high harmonies for which the genre is famous that they incorporate into their sound. Instead they take on "Out of the Woods," a song by Irish folk vocalist Sinéad Lohan that was covered by the progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek, complete with lengthy mandolin improvisation in the middle. The arrangement of Leonard Cohen is similarly imaginative. The CD booklet unfolds into a small poster of the current King's Singers lineup, but includes no texts. It doesn't matter much, however; even the relatively complex (although thankfully repetitive) modern poetry of Conceit (track 2) is fully intelligible. A reasonable sampler disc.

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