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Home Free

Crazy Life – 2014 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Home Free

If you start listening to acapella group Home Free's latest album, "Crazy Life," and find yourself thinking that they sound like they just won a reality show, you're right on the money. While working as an all-around vocal group who'd tried out for the reality show, The Sing-Off, and been rejected three times, the fourth time the band went all country and found themselves winning the contest as well as a recording contract with Columbia. And on their national debut, they take on a range of songs from the country canon and deliver them with their signature a capella sound.

The question that remains is whether or not the country audience will rally around that sound or find it too unusual for their liking. It's not that Home Free aren't bad performers because they're not; they did win a singing competition with good reason. But it's one thing to hear a track like the Zac Brown Band's "Jump Right In" or Johnny Cash's standard "Ring of Fire" invoked with a band versus an all-vocal arrangement. The contrast may be too jarring for some.

But Home Free do their best to make fans throughout, opening things up with a surprisingly fleshed out rendition of "Any Way the Wind Blows" and a playful run with the Avicii/Aloe Blacc hit "Wake Me Up". The collective also shines on their "Hunter Hayes Medley," the namesake's pop elements lending themselves to Home Free's sound while "Champagne Taste (On A Beer Budget)," helmed by Tim Foust's strong bass.

Yet, for all their success and positive sounds here, "Crazy Life" is still an album that feels less than complete. The songs are solid and the vocals are great but the lack of instruments, while novel at first, don't hold up to second listens, particularly if you're not a die-hard a capella fan. Great for fans of the vocal genre, but for those more conventional country fans, you'll be better suited moving on to another album.