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CD REVIEW: Barry Carl - The SoLow Project
By Cheryl Mullen - 11/28/2005 - 09:15 AM EST

Q. What does a 6’4” grizzly Bear record on his first solo CD?


And that is exactly what Barry Carl has done on his new release, The SoLow Project. With this effort, the former bassman for Rockapella with a higher testosterone level than should legally be allowed in humans and a voice deeper than the darkest pits of hell has definitively proven that he can do much more than, as he often put it, “stand in the back and go ‘moo’”.

Not that he had anything to prove. Carl is a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School of Music —not as a voice major, but as a French horn major. From there he sang professional opera for a few years before joining Rockapella.

Rockapella diehards, be warned: You will find no “Sixty Minute Man” here. No “16 Tons”. No “Bored and Stroked”. And nothing that was composed in your lifetime. The Bear has returned to his neck of the woods, singing a much more classical repertoire than we’re accustomed to hearing.

The album is neatly divided into four sections. The first is a selection of Negro spirituals. The second is a collection of sea chanties arranged by Celius Dougherty. The third is a collection of songs by French composer Jacques Ibert written for the 1933 G.W. Pabst film “Don Quixote”. The fourth is a catchy collection of Modest Mussgorsky ditties entitled “Songs and Dances of Death”. Perfect for your next friendly gathering—not! (Unless of course your next gathering happens to be a funeral.)

The Bear album is also a bare album from an instrumental standpoint. On some of the tunes Carl is accompanied by only a piano, and on others he accompanies himself on bass guitar. Personally, I would have liked to have heard him sing the bass guitar part as a backup to his lead vocals on some of the tracks. (Yo Barry! It’s good to expand your creative horizons, but please don’t turn your back completely on your a cappella background! )

So…while it may not have a good beat and it may not be easy to dance to, I’m still going to give Barry Carl’s The SoLow Project a good rating. It is an impressive effort, and frankly I’m just relieved that he didn’t pull a Johnny Carson and disappear for all eternity after walking away from Rockapella. Nice work, Bear.

SoLow Project samples are available for free and legal downloading HERE.

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