Home Free - 'Country Evolution'

Released on September 18, Country Evolution is the seventh studio album from country a cappella group Home Free. With a mix of original tracks and covers, the album's fourteen tracks see a cappella versions of such hits as Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 and Garth Brooks' Friends In Low Places.

I was pleasantly surprised by Country Evolution. I wasn't sure what to expect but Home Free do very well with their their takes on the songs they cover and the original songs add another dynamic, being new to listeners.

With a more substantial reggae influence than the original, Friends In Low Places sounds great, you can't fail to tap your feet along to the infectious beat. The overall a cappella sound is very polished, the vocal effects are enough to have a backdrop to the singing but it doesn't become overpowering and the contrast between Garth Brooks' original is sure to intrigue listeners. Unable to include the electric guitar instrumental hook, the group have opted for whistling, it works perfectly with the reggae feel. Incredibly catchy!

The blend of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Fishin' In The Dark and Little Big Town's Boondocks is certainly strong. The main negative I found is Home Free decided to do the vocal breakdown at the end of Boondocks and it doesn't quite work however, other than that, this is a very strong. Both songs are quite similar to their originals (within the a cappella genre) and, with similar vocal effects, the group have managed to blend them quite well.

Good Ol' Country Harmony is the best original track listeners will hear on Country Evolution. The track has a solid beat behind it and the group showcase their harmonies through various pitch and tempo changes.

Track listing...
1) Summer In The Country - Home Free
2) Good Ol' Country Harmony - Tim Foust
3) 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
4) Elvira (feat. The Oak Ridge Boys) - Dallas Frazier
5) Don't It Feel Good - Tim Foust, Darren Rust
6) Alabama Sampler - Alabama
7) Seven Bridges Road - Steve Young
8) Friends In Low Places - Dewayne Blackwell, Earl Bud Lee
9) Honey I'm Good - Andy Grammer, Nolan Sipe
10) Fishin' In The Dark/Down In The Boondocks - Wendy Waldman, Jim Photoglo, Karen Fairchild, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook
11) The Devil Went Down To Georgia (feat. Charlie Daniels and Taylor Davis) - Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, Joel DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward, James W. Marshall
12) House Party - Sam Hunt, Zach Crowell, Jerry Flowers
13) California Country - Austin Brown
14) Serenity - Home Free

Whilst this album isn't absolutely perfect, it is definitely a strong release. Unfortunately the tracks sometimes feel a little messy, it would be nice to hear one or two stripped back even more than they have. Home Free are, however, definitely an interesting addition to US country music and it'll be interesting to see how they continue to grow!