Various The Unaccompanied Voice: An A Capella Compilation

The boys of Secretly Canadian have brought an ambitious project to life, which has been three years in the making. The Unaccompanied Voice is a collection of 24 tracks, each sung, whispered and yelled without a single instrument except the human voice. In their quest for the "Best, most distinctive voices in music today," the label has collected an impressive roster of voices. A whole range of approaches to the a cappella concept ensues, which works to keep the compilation engaging throughout its entirety. Mia Doi Todd renders "La Vie en Rose" softly while Appendix Out's "Four Nights Drunk" is jarring - bumpy pieces of answering machine tape spliced together to stir the listener. Pedro The Lion's "Breadwinner You" uses a choir of David Bazans under the gorgeous melody. The Japonize Elephants also blend voices well and the biblical tale of "Daniel" is a real hit. P.W. Long teams up with Richard Buckner for "Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down," which sounds like a traditional folk song until Long begins a verse with, "There ain't enough pussy to keep the whiskey off my mind." The Grifters emulate the Fat Boys on "Hits Keep Comin'," while fellow rockers Swearing At Motorists keep things disturbingly quiet with "Goodbye Second & Main (Pink Violence)." Some don't sing at all; Jarboe's "And I Name Myself Hag" is the best use of vocals for mood making, working as a perfect soundtrack to the Wicked Witch of the West's entrance in the Wizard of Oz. There's a lot of great stuff here and it's well worth the three years of work Secretly Canadian has put into making it happen. (Secretly Canadian)