David Vernier
Classics Today
May 2008

It's hard to believe that this is the King's Singers' 40th anniversary season, but this newly recorded program comes as part of the celebration. Of course, over the years the names have changed, the record labels have changed, but the group of six male singers continues to do what it's always done: perform a near-limitless range of repertoire with exceptional technical polish, assured sense of style, and captivating personality, spiced with occasional humour and always conveying the sheer joy of singing, whether in a Byrd motet, a folksong arrangement, or a Beatles tune.

For listeners who primarily identify with the King's Singers' classical-oriented programs, you should know that this is definitely not a ‘classical’ album. Rather, nearly half of the songs are pop tunes (from James Taylor to Billy Joel to Paul Simon and Sting), and the rest—spirituals, ballads, and folksongs - feature arrangements that place them squarely in that genre. Of course, those arrangements are typically first-rate, owing primarily to the expertise of current ensemble member Philip Lawson and former King's Singer Bob Chilcott, both of whom have long experience supplying the group with fresh, original musical creations. New to this CD are Lawson's settings of Sting's ‘Valparaiso’, Paul Simon's ‘April Come She Will’, Randy Newman's ‘When She Loved Me’, and James Taylor's ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’.

Besides appreciating the impeccable vocals and clever, invariably entertaining arrangements of well-known songs (‘Deep River’, ‘Steal Away’, ‘She's Always a Woman’), you can't help but notice—and possibly be distracted by--the sound, whose highly processed quality and close perspective can make the voices seem both uncomfortably near and otherworldly. It's a sonic cast--all done in a studio—that's quite different from other King's Singers recordings; some listeners will love it, others will, well, have to get used to it. And certainly, if you love this group—and who doesn't?—you've probably already reserved a place on the shelf.

Classics Today