I Hear Voices! with Strings
First things first…this is a great follow-up to this singing quartet’s debut release from last year. These four voices—a baritone, alto, tenor and soprano are the epitome of the adage much greater than the sum of its parts. Bobby Kimmel, Kathy Harris, Bobby and Suzy Ronstadt all have their moments, but it’s the synergy of them singing in unison that makes this special. And it’s not all straight four part harmony as even too much of a good thing can get old. Instead, these tunes have been artfully arranged in ways that find the voices creatively coming together in any number of configurations.
Now they have added three ringers to the mix. Heather Hardy and Greg Morton on violin and guitar respectively are two of the finest at their craft, anywhere. Add Jim Stanley on acoustic bass and it’s as if they’re a legitimate band. Fortunately, instead of distracting with overextended solos or burdening the arrangements with added layers of sound, the added strings are a perfect complement to the voices and songs offering depth and colors not found on the previous release.
While every tune is its own song portrait, the several that lean towards the gospel end of things are the ones that seem to work best. Buffy Saint Marie’s “Piney Wood Hills,” the traditional “The Soul of a Man Never Dies,” and “Pilgrim’s Invitation,” one of Bobby Kimmel’s best songs ever, are but three examples. But it’s their interpretation of Sabra Faulk’s brilliant and heartfelt “Providence,” with the strings’ exquisite instrumental opening, that is their crowning achievement.