With so many sonic perspectives occupying the same space, a compilation album can face challenges to represent a unified front. The inaugural volume that the Women’s A Cappella Association released (earlier this summer) seems to possess opposite ingredients of both creativity and trend. The 13-track selection are either hit or miss; touchdown or fumble; “YAAASSSS” or “meh.” But as a whole, the album stays balanced and complimentary to the wide spectrum of genres, sounds, sizes, and philosophies of the multifaceted lineup.
Lady Jaye launches the WACA cruise with an outstanding rendition of Kimbra’s Two-Way Street that has an undeniable understanding of how modern recording can be used as a type of expression. As the tune progresses, you can actually hear them change physical spaces from a small, airless chamber to an outside arena. Almost like saying “welcome to the party.”
Timeshel performed by GQ takes an intimate approach with their arrangement. The low voices urge forward as if it were a little boat stumbling through sea and wind as the melody climbs into your throat and sweeps a few tears free.
This segues into What the Water Gave Me by NU’s Pitch Please!, which should be admired for its intelligent arrangement and part-stitching. The voices weave together and apart, up and around, and all over in a seemingly 3-dimensional fashion that really makes the piece feel alive.
The Riveters visit us near the end of the album with an atmospheric rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. A successful exploration of what a listener is expecting, and the surprises this group will parade instead. Every time you think about getting bored, they surprise you again.
The whole album is a mixed bag of events. There are literal interpretations of songs (which made for most of the underwhelming tracks,) a lot of what I call “bullets underwater” type arrangements (slow burning builds, that end in a high belting climax,) and a handful of insightful/inspirational/incredible moments that make WACA Vol. I worth purchasing and listening to on your train ride home.
About the writer:
Michelle Rocqet is a robot made of the trash found behind Muscle Shoals Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. Big Mama Thornton happened to be playing over the loud speakers while she was being assembled. Widely known through her astrological work as a double cancer, she enjoys staying at home a lot. Current member of MIX from UCD and designated beatbox/looper for Denver band The Milk Blossoms.