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The Puppini Sisters: The High Life

Album Notes

The Puppini Sisters' fifth studio album, The High Life, is the trio's first with Emma Smith joining original members Marcella Puppini and Kate Mullins. Aside from new membership, the vocal group stays the course, offering more of their close-knit, three-part harmonies on versions of big-band classics, a couple of original songs, and swing era-inspired rearrangements of more contemporary hits. The trio holds a few surprises in its selections of the latter, such as a medley of the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" and Sia's "Chandelier," and a fluid cover of Missy Elliott's "Work It." Their take on "Rapper's Delight" works especially well, riding the original's natural swing. The bass-driven medley eases back and forth between the rap classic and 2014's "Chandelier" with scatting and melodic percussion, and proves to be a highlight of The High Life. Not as much fun is their David Bowie cover, a piano-led, rim-clicking arrangement of "Changes" that comes off more like an exercise than a reinvention. They're back in form on "Material Girls Medley," though, which includes pieces of several female-led, money-themed songs, including Meghan Trainor's "Dear Future Husband" and Rihanna's "Bitch Better Have My Money." All of the above are worked into the set list alongside expectedly capable versions '30s and '40s classics, such as Arlen-Mercer's "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," and the even earlier Brazilian work with many versions including a film appearance by Carmen Miranda, "Tico Tico" (aka "Tico-Tico No Fubá"). Ultimately, as on past albums, the Puppini Sisters thrive on the original tunes, which were written with their distinct delivery in mind. "Is This the High Life" employs a clarinet, piano, bass, and drum combo to support a rhythmic melody that slides between solo vocals and full three-part harmony, and for a taste of the women at their most Andrews Sisters, don't miss "We Love to Bebop." ~ Marcy Donelson


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