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Three

January 17, 2012 | Format: MP3

$8.99
Also available in CD Format
Song Title
Time
Popularity  
30
1
4:23
30
2
3:29
30
3
3:19
30
4
3:31
30
5
4:15
30
6
2:50
30
7
3:43
30
8
4:02
30
9
4:01
30
10
3:49
30
11
4:51
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Wow! That's all I can say. Just...Wow!!! I would have to think back a good many years to come up with another album that is this perfect! Smart songs, creative arrangements and harmonies from heaven...oh, my God, those harmonies!...it all comes together brilliantly, resulting in an album that doesn't bear one false note.
Having been a life-long fan of both Cindy Bullens and Wendy Waldman, I was thrilled at the prospect of them doing something together (along with third member Deborah Holland). Their debut effort, 2009's UNBOUND, was solid, but in no way did it even HINT at what was to come two years later!
Aside from the plusses pointed out above, I'd have to say the main thing that makes THREE so special is it's sense of cohesiveness....if you didn't know better, you would swear that The Refugees had been together for a decade or more (vs. barely five years), and that this was their sixth or seventh release (instead of their second). Seriously...there are times their three voices combined sound like one!
This is clear right from the start ~ the disc's opening number, "Catch Me If You Can", is simply stunning. There are SO many things to love here...Bullens' lower register, the seductive arrangement, the unhurried pace...but it's the vocals that ultimately blow your mind....at one point, each of the ladies take the lead vocal...AT THE SAME TIME! Working three different sets of lyrics, they weave in and out, never once stepping on each other's musical toes, layering things perfectly. Brilliant! (As a die-hard Fleetwood Mac fan, all I can say is, I WISH that band had done something like this when they were at the height of their three-part harmonies!).
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Format: Audio CD
Guest fiddler Sam Bush and drummer Scott Babcock supplement the sturdy Americana sound of The Refugees' "Three" featuring the trio of Cindy Bullens (guitars, mandolin, harmonica), Deborah Holland (bass, accordion, piano), and Wendy Waldman (guitars, Dobro). While the three singing and songwriting women have years of experience (with 19 solo albums between them!), The Refugees is a Los Angeles-based collaboration formed in 2007. A couple years later, their debut album "Unbound" was very well received.

The distinctive group has spun many heads with their keen ability to build upon each musician's strengths revolving around songwriting, instrumental prowess, vocal blend, humor and showmanship. A former backup vocalist for Elton John, Cindy Bullens has also written songs, scores and musicals. A prolific writer, Deborah Holland was the singer and songwriter for Animal Logic, and she currently teaches music at Vancouver, B.C.'s Langara College. Wendy Waldman's band Bryndle debuted in the 1970s, and she's also found success as a soloist, songwriter and music producer. So, between the three of them, they have at least 100 years of combined experience. Their current aptitude and craftsmanship are fully displayed in the band's repertoire influenced by folk, blues, country and rock. The cooperative effort may be best displayed in those five songs jointly written and arranged by the ladies (Catch Me If You Can, I Don't Care At All, 5th of July, Rosalinda, Every Body and Soul). At the same time, tune into each songwriter's moxie and individualism in their self-penned numbers such as Waldman's "Can't Stop Now," Bullens' "January Sky," and Holland's "My Favorite Joe.
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There are few musical albums I've ever encountered that bring together such rich, vibrant singing and fine, engaging musicianship with such absolutely empty content. (Empty in the sense that I've heard more meaningful television commercials.)

First, I am not familiar with The Refugees earlier efforts, so I have no idea where this album falls within the spectrum of their oeuvre; it may be typical, it may be the best of, it may be the worst of. I don't know. I am familiar with Holland's work with Animal Logic, of which I am a great fan.

But some of the stuff here is simply beyond the pale. Holland's song, "Chain Stores, Malls, and Restaurants" actually has this entire phrase as the chorus. (I'm not joking.) A tongue-in-cheek attempt at wry humor (and social criticism, perhaps?) this is perhaps the worst song to be put to permanence since "Ina-gada-da-vida" in the late sixties.

The rest are forgettable (thankfully), silly, and amateurish.

The one song worth hearing more than once of the eleven on this effort is the last: "Every Body and Soul", jointly written by the three and which has some meaningful substance.

Can these women sing? Beautifully together. (Think of the Roche sisters with professional training, ramp up the quality a bit, and throw in some of the harmonic abilities of CS&N, and you have some idea of how nice they can sound.) Can they write meaningful songs? Perhaps. If so, none of them are present on this effort.
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