Here’s a review of “Journey”, the newest release from the 2007 International Championship quartet, Max Q. (Disclaimer – the opinions expressed here don’t reflect the views of all members of Lustre, just me and my opinionated self. 😉 ). I got a chance to buy this new CD from Tony DeRosa (Lead in Max Q) when he was in town to coach HCMC and Lustre earlier this month, and it’s been pretty much all I’ve listened to since then.
My first impression of the CD, from the very first note on the very first track, was “Wow! These guys are clean!” The vocal quality and consistency, the synchronization, the musical delivery – everything about every track is just pristine, dare I say flawless. Since they’ve not really given any opportunity to pick apart their technique, maybe I’ll just talk about the songs themselves.
My very favorite song on the CD is the haunting, beautiful (non-barbershop) version of “The Windmills of Your Mind.” Oh. My. Gosh. Now that is one finely sung piece! This song has been playing in my head for over a week, nearly every waking moment (and sometimes while I’m sleeping too). “Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning…” The song itself is a masterful composition, and the way Max Q delivers this arrangement is just, well, stunning.
Two tracks stand out as particularly fine barbershop uptunes: “Put Your Arms Around Me Honey / Them Girls Medley,” and “Somebody Loves Me.” I especially like the way both of these songs feature a slow accelerando – the rhythmic melody that starts out very slowly, then like a locomotive gaining speed, revs up to a driving and exciting high-tempo climax.
The quartet shows off their jazzier side with the syncopated rhythms and fun interpretations in “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Royal Garden Blues,” and “Rhythm Medley.” They cover a fairly straightforward barbershop version of the John Denver hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” I kind of wonder why this song is included on the CD – it seems like a “filler” song to me.
Turning to the ballads, my favorite on this CD is “I Heard You Singing” – it’s got many lovely passages tucked into the arrangement, and the melody moves around all four parts, giving each singer a chance to shine. Also featured is “Somewhere,” from the musical “The West Side Story.” While there’s technically nothing wrong with this track, I get a little distracted by the original verse that starts the song, and I find myself wishing that the arrangement was a little less “barbershoppy.” The third ballad, “Little Pal,” is well sung, but the lyrics are a little over the top for my personal tastes.
The last track on the CD is a fun, snappy version of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” I love the message, I love the arrangement, I love the way it’s delivered. It’s one of the two songs on this CD that you’ll not find in the barbershop purist’s song book, but it’s so well done! If you see Tony, ask him how long it took for them to learn the song well enough to record it – the answer may surprise you! (or maybe not, given how talented these men are – here’s a hint: you can count the hours on one hand!)
All in all, a great CD, lots of great music – go get it for your own collection here.
Already heard the CD and want to share your opinion? I’d love to hear what you think! Leave us a comment below to give your review.