Every once in awhile, you browse a music store and stumble across something new and unique that that, until that moment, you never dreamed existed. In fact, long after listening to the record, you still can't believe such a project was ever created, let alone dreamt up. The String Quartet Tribute To Switchfoot is one of those finds. And while it may not be something you will find firmly lodged within your player for an extended period of time, it's a highly entertaining musical journey.
Vitamin Records has made a name for themselves by releasing unique tributes for numerous mainstream artists including U2, Jennifer Lopez, Evanescence, Chevelle, Creed, The Beatles, and many others. In fact, they don't stop at string quartet variations. Vitamin also offers piano and dance arrangements, among others. But, needless to say, it's rather surprising to find such an often sorely overlooked band given the treatment more renowned artists are getting.
The String Quartet Tribute To Switchfoot is really kind of a strange project. The opening notes of the all-string arrangement for "Meant To Live," lead by a military-style drum beat, is likely to warrant a chuckle from any fan at first. But as the violins and cellos continue, it amounts to a truly intriguing rendition. As the songs progress on the album, however, one common element seems to detract from most of the songs. While the song without vocals might feel much like a soundtrack or accompaniment track, the composers utilize violins to simulate Jon Foreman's vocal melodies. The end result mostly feels exaggerated and melodramatic. You might even expect operatic vocals to jump in at any moment.
The songs that you might expect to translate best into orchestral pieces actually fair the least, as such with "24" and "Let That Be Enough." The latter, originally merely an acoustic with vocals, feels almost too layered here. The simplicity and tenderness of the original only worked to its benefit. The overall vibes, however, of tracks like "Dare You To Move," "This Is Your Life," and especially "Chem 6A" are what really make this project worth listening to.
Some of the orchestrations do come on a bit strong, and at the same time, seem somewhat unpolished. While its an orchestral reinvisioning of the songs, it lacks the theatrical scope that could really make a project like this excel. But if for no other reason, it's just fun to behold if you're a fan of Switchfoot. I'm not sure it's worth the investment to spend the price of a regular record on such an endeavor, but Switchfoot enthusiasts will find The String Quartet Tribute To Switchfoot to be a quirky, and maybe even beautiful, treat indeed.- Review date: 7/26/05, written by John DiBiase
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