Looking over the track list on the back of the “The Swimsuit Issue,” I got excited as I recognized several songs I liked.

Released earlier this year, “The Swimsuit Issue” features the vocal talents of the 2003-04 Vocal Point lineup. It accomplishes what most a cappella albums do – it captures a group’s ability to mesh well together in a given year.

The full-length album has a nice mix of songs traditionally performed by female and male vocalists and classic rock and alternative bands.

Successful a cappella relies on lead vocals that harmonize well with a strong “percussion” built from several voices.

Many doubt the ability of female a cappella members to create this vocal/percussion balance. However, on “The Swimsuit Issue,” Vocal Point shows they can hold their own with the boys.

The women of Vocal Point don’t waste any time jumping into a high-energy combination of the classic rock songs “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane and “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones. The two songs fit together surprisingly well. Pairing multiple songs together allows Vocal Point to change up an otherwise predictable number.

They do it again with the track “I Can’t Get Next to You.” In the middle of the famous Temptations song, they switch tempo with a piece of the dance hit “Can’t Get You Outta My Head” by Kylie Minogue. The change adds a “remix” quality to the song.

A Sarah McLachlan fanatic, I was looking forward to hearing the Vocal Point version of “Elsewhere.” While “Elsewhere” seems to run a little slow, it does not lose its airy flow, thanks to a blended percussion.

Vocal Point also takes on the Guster hit “What You Wish For.” While it lacks the access to loud percussion instruments, the vocal percussion section adapts, creating a unique sound.

Soloists step back into the percussion with the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Helplessly Hoping.” Without a soloist, the group sings beautifully as one voice.

The next song offers the opposite feel, with multiple sopranos for the Ani DiFranco tune “Both Hands.” If you listen carefully, you can hear just how much is going on.

“Kissing You” by Des’ree was the highlight of the album. For those that aren’t familiar with the song, it’s the one that plays in Baz Luhrman’s “Romeo + Juliet” when the star-crossed lovers meet for the first time. It’s also one of my favorite songs. Vocal Point didn’t disappoint me with their strong, sweet performance.

The second strongest track is “Criminal” by Fiona Apple. The soloist is strong and sultry, yet unique from Fiona Apple – in some ways, better.

Vocal Point wraps up “The Swimsuit Issue” with a soulful “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys. Before listening, I was curious how a song so dependent on an instrument, the piano, would fare without it. I was pleasantly surprised with the percussion arrangement – it really sounded like the spirit of the piano was in the song.

Overall, the album provides a sampling of the variety of musical styles the group performs.

While listening to “The Swimsuit Issue” is a great introduction to the repertoire of Vocal Point, the best a cappella experience is a live one.

You can catch Vocal Point at the Interfaith Chapel Sanctuary at 9 p.m. on April 9. Admission costs $3, and tickets can be purchased at the Common Market or at the door.

Borchardt can be reached at jborchardt@campustimes.org.



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