Prime Cuts: Original, No One Knows My Heart, You've Got a Friend in Me
Overall Grade: 4/5
Imagine Avicii, Shania Twain, Randy Newman, and Steven Curtis Chapman doing a record together. The Hall Sisters come close in making this dream a reality; they have recorded a song each from all of these esteemed artists. As eclectic as the song choices are, Here and the Other Side actually works. The album doesn't sound disparate. Rather the ladies' tight layered harmonies and their country-pop execution make these songs (plus their own originals) their very own. Though they have released a couple of seasonal offerings and a few EPS, Here and the Other Side is their debut album of 12-songs for Penn Street Records.
With their four-part harmonies on full display on the pop-centric "How Long," the Hall sisters calls to mind Point of Grace in their prime. However, they are not ones to be domesticated by one type of sound. The dreamy keyboard sounds as well as the ladies' "ooh aaah" augmentation to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Magnificent Obsession" calls to mind the Carpenters. The gals then indulge in contemporary pop with the thumping R&B-esque "From Now On" and the cinematic "What Shame Says."
Fans who love a well-written ballad will adore "Original." Speaking of how we are all uniquely created by God, "Original" packs a message that deserves to be widely circulated. The album's nerve center has to be "No One Knows My Heart," a contemplative worship ballad that takes the time to marvel at God's intricate love for us. Not really sure if Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me" fits with the lyrical flow of the record, but the sisters really excel on this. Giving this "Toy Story" theme song a jazzy makeover, the girls sound delightful.
Though Shania Twain had sold truckloads of albums in the 90s, few have attempt to cover her songs. The Hall Sisters have broken the ice and they have recorded "Up" (without Twain famous exclamation mark). Sadly, Twain's version has been too overpowering that the Hall Sisters can't help but copy her vocal inflections and even the percussions sound similar. Also a misstep is the quasi-disco sound of "Home" which sounds awfully out of place.
Here and the Other Side is an adventurous record. The Hall Sisters have ensured that there are no soporific moment on the album. Rather, with a widely-sourced repertoire and their tight harmonies, they have created one of the more interesting records released this year. Other than a couple of missteps, this album is fun, diverse, and heartfelt.