HomeRecording Review: Virginia Sil’hooettes' "Take It To The Bridge"

Matt King's picture

The Virginia Sil’hooettes have been one of my favorite female groups for a while now.  It seems like every song I hear of theirs I really enjoy.  Although I didn’t get a chance to hear their last album in its entirety, I really loved Butterflies and Hurricanes off of Voices Only.  So I was excited to hear Take It To The Bridge (awesome album name, by the way).

The album opens right up with some awesome harmony without any backing vocals.  “Shadows of the Night” is a really fun song.  The soloist nails it and the background is energetic and busy enough to keep my attention.  I always wonder how the bass is going to be handled in all-female albums.  Sometimes it’s so low and prevalent that it sounds out of place.  The Sils have some octavised bass in there, but it’s very nicely hidden with the rest of the sound so that it’s not confusing to the ear.  A very good sign for the rest of the album.

“Crazy” has some pretty nifty effects thrown in there, but they are interspersed with some very clear singing.  I think they do a good job of building the song.  It’s fairly layered from what I can tell.  The real star of this song is the soloist.  She attacks it with such gusto that it’s impossible not to get caught up in it and have fun listening to her.  She really starts to wail right before the two-minute mark.  There may be times where she gets a little too into the song, possibly, but I’ll let her slide because it’s such a sweet solo.

I really like the background of “Get Out of This Town”.  It has some cool lower harmonies.  This is another song with great energy and a great soloist.  These girls brought their A game, for sure.  The soloist has just the right amount of twang so that we know it’s a country song, but not so much that it’s distracting to the rest of the song, which is pretty darn entertaining.

On “Wreckless Love”, the Sils do a very solid job, but the song just doesn’t catch me.  I don’t know why.  The soloist does an admirable job covering Alicia Keys and the background has a decent groove, but I just think the song itself didn’t appeal to me that much.

I like the soloist for “That’s What You Get”.  She has a very unique voice.  This song is another good example of how skilled the Sils are at letting the song rise and fall to keep things fresh.  You could keep the song in the same kind of volume and intensity at the same level, but it gets boring.  While this wasn’t my favorite song on the album, it does a good job of keeping me here the whole way through.

“Say” is another track with some noticeable computerized sounds mixed in there.  It’s a nice enough song, but the song does tend to drag a little bit.  I definitely haven’t gotten as excited about the next three songs as I did the first three.

I should preface this by saying that I normally hate country songs in a cappella.  It’s not that I don’t like country songs in general, but I rarely think they translate well.  That being said, I really like “Nothing Better to Do”.  A large part of this is the soloist, who jumps onto the song sounding like she is channeling the Dixie Chicks.  The background doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to sound too twangy themselves, which helps give the song legitimacy. 

I wasn’t too much of a fan of “The Story”.  I appreciated the slow build, how the song picked up really nicely around the one minute mark, but that’s also where the soloist started sounding a little whiney.  It just sounds like a tough solo to pull off, and she does for the majority of the song, but the high parts seemed like she was reaching a bit.  This song also has one of the worst aca-guitar solos I’ve heard in a while.  And there is this sound going on above the louder parts in the song.  I think it’s supposed to sound like a shaker, but really it just sounds like static and it’s distracting.

Remember how I said that the Sils do a great job of having their songs rise and fall?  I’m starting to think the same applies to the album.  After a song that I’m not too thrilled about, they give me one that I like.  “Going ON” is a bouncy kind of song that switches feels about five different times.  It keeps me on my toes and the harmonies in the background are really pretty.  The last minute of the song has a lot of soaring chords.  I’m a big fan of those. 

“Between the Lines” is the best ballad on this album by far.  The soloist gives it a very sweet take that makes me really care what she is singing about.   There is nothing spectacular about the arrangement, but I like its simplicity.  Yeah, this is just a very pretty song.

“No More ‘I Love You’s’” should have been placed a track earlier.  It’s a fairly solid ballad, but I just don’t feel like it measures up to the previous track and therefore suffers.  It redeems itself near the end of the song with another good build and harmonies, but the first half of the song is just a little too boring.  If I was listening to this album for fun (which I plan to do by the way) I would probably just skip over this track.  Especially because I’m so excited to get to the next one.

Why, hello there BOCA track.  Yep, the remix of “1234” is awesome and is my pick to make the next BOCA.  This was a song that I heard on the radio and thought “that’s catchy, but kind of annoying.  It will definitely get made into an a cappella song by countless female groups.”  So I was skeptical at first to see it on the track list, but the way they remixed it is impressive.  It’s mixed beautifully, sung great, and arranged perfectly.  I definitely listened to it again immediately after the first time.  Great job by the Sils.

“Redemption Song” sounded live.  Which was exciting, because it also sounded great.  You can tell these girls like singing together because their blend is fantastic.  The song eventually broke down to a “na na na” background, but really it’s the harmonies when the girls all sing together that makes this song a good one.  That and the soloist.  Big props to all the Sils soloists.  I was very impressed with them throughout the album.

I would give this album a 7 out of 10.  The soloists, as I mentioned before, are fantastic.  There are some good songs and bad ones on here, but I think the good ones definitely outweigh the ones that aren’t so great.  Actually, there’s no really bad songs on here, just ones that don’t hit you like the really good ones do.  It has a BOCA track (in my mind) and is just a fun listen.  I would recommend you pick it up if you’re looking for a nice listen.

http://www.student.virginia.edu/silhooettes/

About the author:
Matt King is a graduate of Appalachian State University where he sang for the school's oldest a cappella group, Higher Ground.  Matt acted as president for three of those years and director for two of them, helping to put out the group's first studio album, Wing Night.  Matt currently lives in San Jose and works as a sportswriter for BleacherReport.com.