Vocal Few
Tall Trees


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ecnalzen USER (17 Reviews)
May 20th, 2013 | 26 replies


Release Date: 05/21/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Just a guy and his pregnant wife making music together"

The Classic Crime's vocalist in a folk project with his wife? Yes, please.

Often, it seems like side projects of vocalists tend not to stray far from the source, but Vocal Few is quite the departure from TCC’s material. I don't know about you, but when I listen to a side project of someone in a band I like that is still together, I don't want to hear a replica of said band. There is a variety of instrumentation happening with some wonderful vocal performances throughout, and (aside from Matt’s voice) it doesn’t really have much similarity to his main band. Matt is the dominant one on the vocals here and even though he is the stronger singer (granted he has had a lot of practice over the last 8-9 years) I wish Kristie was utilized a little more. I didn’t think much of her voice at first, but it really grew on me over repeated listens. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have many of her own passages and typically just plays harmony to Matt. Also, when they are singing together, her voice sometimes seems to be further back in the mix than it should, but it could just be Matt’s vocals overpowering hers. Speaking more the vocals, I also wish the two would have overlapped and intertwined their vocal lines, maybe something similar to how bands like Emery handled their dual vocals, instead of only singing in harmony or completely separate from each other. The chorus of “Simple and Free” is a great example of this:

And I don’t mind
(The fact these musical notes)
Haunt my mind
(And resonate from my bones)
Simple and free is what I said…


The parts in parentheses are the background vocals, but Matt performs the entire chorus and overlaps his own voice. Kristie could have easily performed the background vocals to add some more flavor and then, just to spice it up some more, they could have switched the vocals on the chorus later in the song and had Kristie do the main part and Matt in the background. It just seems like a missed opportunity for something of this high quality to be even better than it already is.

The music is typically of a lighthearted nature, but there is a very strong sentiment in the lyrics throughout the EP, and it runs the deepest on “One Day Soon.” It is an absolutely gorgeous song in which Matt lovingly sings about the present and then moves on to the future, as the title suggests, of his baby girl. Kristie is largely absent in the song, except for some harmony parts, and it could have been a nice touch to have her sing the background parts in the chorus ("You will never be alone" is repeated in the background as the main passage goes on) or even have her own verse, but the song is pretty much all Matt’s baby (pun intended, you ask? I haven’t decided yet). “Good Enough” is another beautifully somber song that and has Matt delivering one of the best performances I have heard from him. Kristie also gives a fantastic performance along with him and especially shines in her harmony sections. It’s almost as if she was afraid to let loose on the sections where she sings by herself like she does here when singing with Matt.

Wild I Am is another great song that livens things up a bit after "One Day Soon" and even if the chorus is a bit reminiscent to the beginning of the chorus in “What I’d Give Up” from TCC’s last album, Phoenix, the piano is well done (the staccato on the intro is a nice touch) and the vocal harmonies sound great together (especially since Kristie's voice is more prominent in the mix). I almost think that it would have made a wiser choice as an intro track and The Road would have been better to finish the EP off, but the choosing of the beginning and ending tracks doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

All the lyrics are handled quite nicely and have a fairly wide range of topics. “The Road” is about how the couple handled Matt being on the road with The Classic Crime, “Simple and Free” speaks on the subject on why they chose music over other career choices, and “Good Enough” talks about the pitfalls of love, their failed relationships in their past, and also touches on how the two have made it as long as they have as a couple. Along with “One Day Soon,” it has a strong emotional weight to it and both are absolute highlights of the EP.

Aside from a few odd choices on how the vocals were handled, this is a wonderful and well executed EP from Vocal Few. Originally, the two only started it up because of Kristie’s first pregnancy and the need of some extra money, but after their first release came to much success (as well as Kristie becoming pregnant again), they decided to keep it going. Whether it’s because of their enjoyment of making music together, the need for some extra money, fans just wanting more, or all of the above; I couldn’t be happier to help support them through their endeavors. Who knows? If they keep popping out kids like this, maybe we will get a full length album one of these days.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Ecnalzen
May 20th 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Originally posted here: http://meltingalbumreviews.com/2013/05/21/vocal-few-tall-trees/

This comes out tomorrow and will be available through their bandcamp (and Amazon). You can also stream the whole thing through bandcamp here:

http://vocalfew.bandcamp.com/


Also, feedback is appreciated.


atrink
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013


2845 Comments


I was going to review this tomorrow : (

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013


19916 Comments


lol atrink you go in streaks :3 great review ecnalzen pos'd

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

Ecnalzen
May 20th 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well... You still can, atrink, lol

Thanks, Atari.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013


19916 Comments


oooh gotta love bandcamp gonna listen now

Ecnalzen
May 20th 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think you will get some enjoyment out of it, Atari. I was pretty happy with it, although I still need to hear their first release.

Well, do you agree with anything I said, atrink? I don't think I have ever had you comment on one of my reviews before. I would be interested to hear what you think if you have the time.

Eko
May 20th 2013


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh good I heard this was good

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013


3469 Comments


Really good review, may check this as I love The Classic Crime. Would you like some more detailed feedback?

Ecnalzen
May 20th 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sure, Brostep!

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013


3469 Comments


Sweet, here goes:

Some general comments: the whole thing is really nicely written, but there's an overwhelming feeling of "formula" to the whole thing. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, you know, but the whole thing smacks of "Here's an intro that fits in, and here's my thesis, and here's my arguments in a straightforward way." Which is fine in a research paper, but in a review people want to be entertained, you know?

When I found out that The Classic Crime’s vocalist, Matt MacDonald, had a side project, I became very interested.

After a solid summary this feels kinda weak for a first sentence. Maybe it's the "very interested" part - a word like "intrigued" would work better IMO.
Same goes for the second sentence - kinda weak wording

I am happy to say that

Don't need this, adds unnecessary length

but it really grew on me quite quickly.

Cut the "quite quickly" part

Speaking more on Kristie’s vocals

Cut this

Your first paragraph seems just a tad stilted, though it's quite good. There's a lot of filler and I feel like you say "I think" and "I believe" a little too much. See a Rudy or Downer review for a comparison point, as those are some of the best at no-bullshit flowing

The parts in parentheses are the background vocals, but Matt performs the entire chorus and overlaps his own voice. Kristie could have easily performed the background vocals to add some more flavor and then, just to spice it up some more, they could have switched the vocals on the chorus later in the song and had Kristie do the main part and Matt in the background.

Really good point here.

more next comment

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013


3469 Comments


The music is typically of a more lighthearted nature, but there is a very strong sentiment in the lyrics throughout the EP, and it runs the deepest on “One Day Soon."

This feels really stilted for some reason, more so than the rest of your review. It's probably the "typically," "more," "very," and words like that

(You will never be alone is repeated in the background as the chorus goes on)

Might want some quotes around "you...alone"

One thing I notice is that you use hella parentheses. I'd try to cut back on them, maybe limit yourself to 1 per paragraph, since that makes your writing flow a lot better.

Wild I Am is another favorite of mine, even if the vocal part when the two are singing the chorus is a little too familiar to the beginning of the chorus on “What I’d Give Up” from TCC’s last album, Phoenix (and it probably doesn’t help that the two songs appear to be in the same key as well), but the piano is well done (the staccato on the intro is a nice touch) and the vocal harmonies sound great together (as does most of the EP, especially when Kristie's voice is more prominent in the mix).

1. not a great start to a paragraph, I don't really care that it's "another favorite of yours," I want to know if it's good or not. You could just say that
2. massive run-on

it has a very strong emotional weight to it, and both are absolute highlights of the EP.

Things like "very strong emotional weight" and "absolute highlights" just stick out uncomfortably, I don't really know why.

quips

right word here?

REALLY nice conclusion paragraph. Stands out as almost staff-quality tbh.

Overall, really nice job. You're a terrific writer, and you wouldn't have been picked up for Rob's site if you weren't. I just find it easy to tear into someone's review that's not my own. The only review I can think of where I had virtually no feedback was Rudy's Bibio review, and that's one of the best of the past couple weeks. Keep up the good work! I'd love to see you as a contrib/staff someday.

Ecnalzen
May 20th 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome. I have never had such an in-depth critique before. THANK you :D

I don't why, but I overly enjoy using parenthesis. I will try to cut back and do some reading on the proper use of them. There is a very good possibility I am just using them for the hell of it.

Also, don't give me too much credit for that summary. It's from their Facebook page, lol. I couldn't think of anything, and I've seen other people do stuff like that for summaries, so I just slightly altered it and put it in there. Also, my intro paragraphs are usually kind of crappy. It's something I'd like to improve on, but I just haven't quite figured it out yet.

Did you get a chance to listen to it yet, Brostep?

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


3469 Comments


I listened to a few singles but I haven't given this an in-depth listen yet. Will do that soon though

Ecnalzen
May 21st 2013


6688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool. Thanks again for the feedback and the kind words. I appreciate it.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19916 Comments


I definitely don't agree with all brosteps feedback lol



Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


3469 Comments


What parts don't you agree with? I'd love to know what you think.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19916 Comments


but it really grew on me quite quickly.

Cut the "quite quickly" part

Why? If anything the sentence seems to end more abruptly with that part taken out (at least in my opinion)

The music is typically of a more lighthearted nature, but there is a very strong sentiment in the lyrics throughout the EP, and it runs the deepest on “One Day Soon."

This feels really stilted for some reason, more so than the rest of your review. It's probably the "typically," "more," "very," and words like that

I just don't get what's wrong with this sentence to be honest. I guess what i'm wondering is what is it about words like 'typically' that bothers you so much? I actually thought it was a strong sentence.

--Those are just 2 examples where we bumped heads on the feedback you provided. I could be wrong entirely though as I'm sure you're a better writer than me.





Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19916 Comments


you gave me some similar feedback in my chunk, no captain chunk review:

However, somehow the French “pop-core” band have actually managed to improve on their sophomore effort Pardon my French.

This sentence just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. Maybe it's the "actually," maybe it's the "somehow," I don't really know. I just don't think it flows particularly well as a sentence.

so it seems like words such as typically and actually, etc tend to bug you? Is there something in specific about those words that you think makes them less effective? not trying to challenge you just trying to understand where you're coming from.



Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013


3469 Comments


It's mostly that they're unnecessary. There's something to be said for longer sentences rather than abrupt ones, but if there's unnecessary length added to a sentence like that then they should probably be cut. The English language is beautiful and we should use our words wisely - things like "quite quickly" and "actually" chop up an otherwise well-flowing sentence. Look at staff reviews, for example - the best writers don't do anything like that. Every word is used to its maximum potential, and everything just flows like ink.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2013


19916 Comments


thanks for the reply. I definitely get where you're coming from with that but at the same time I've always thought things like that were personal preference. And i'm not gonna mention any names but some of the staff reviews just bore me.



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