CD Review: ‘Smile’ The Idea of North



Celebrating 20 years of stylish music making, ARIA Award winning a capella quartet The Idea of North have released Smile, their 10th album on the ABC Classics label.

The blend of voice, harmony and crystalline delivery is nothing less than listeners have come to expect from this ensemble. Soprano Sally Cameron, alto Naomi Crellin, tenor Nick Begbie and bass Andew Piper who met at the Canberra School of Music, create all the acoustics be they vocal, rhythmic or percussive, with their voices. The tracks include a couple of classics from previous albums – Mas Que Nada from their debut album Here and Now (2003) is a sentimental favourite. Mostly, they are songs that Naomi Crellin along with James Morrison, Andrew Piper and others have arranged and adapted. Timeless numbers like The Windmills of Your Mind, Smile and Big Yellow Taxi are placed  alongside contemporary favourites by Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, Paul Kelly, and Sting’s Fragile, which features the Scandinavian cool of Finnish a capella ensemble Rajaton.

The mood moves from introspective – think relaxing barefooted after sundown with a cocktail – to poignant dissonant harmonies, which resolve with optimism. The singers bring out the ‘rhythm section’ for tracks like Mas Qe Nada, Big Yellow Taxi and a decidedly crisp and upbeat finale of St Thomas by Sonny Rollins, based on a traditional English song.

There are 14 tracks amounting to 55 minutes of music with a package and insert containing creative imagery in muted tones, portraits of the singers and insights from James Morrison.

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©

Smile, The idea of North, ABC Classics, ABC 481 0503.




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