The Swingle Singers have been around since before the cast members of Glee were a gleam in their parents’ eyes, but they are surely rejoicing in the renewed interest in group singing the TV show has brought about. The a cappella group was formed in 1962 in Paris by Ward Swingle and came to notoriety for their renditions of Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier. Having gone through many incarnations and currently based in England, the seven-voice group now even includes a Canadian, baritone Kevin Fox.
A cappella singing presents many challenges and while the ability to blend is a coveted skill, it can sometimes result in a homogenous sound that can become tedious. So the vocal percussion on many of the cuts on Weather to Fly adds a welcome dimension. The eclectic repertoire includes a Turkish traditional song, a Piazzola tango and a cute play on a Beyoncé hit – Swingle Ladies. The 80s are represented with the Tears for Fears’ tune Woman in Chains, complete with vocally recreated synth parts, and Chick Corea’s much-covered Spain, here given an oddly antiseptic treatment that I found unappealing (and a little reminiscent of Alvin and The Chipmunks). The title track on the other hand is an example of the best an a cappella group can be – the arrangement makes the most of the voices (especially the beautiful bass of Edward Randell). The soloists Clare Wheeler, Sara Brimer and Oliver Griffiths give impeccable performances.