The Phantom Tollbooth
 
the Pieces Fit 
Artist: Considering Lily 
Label: ForeFront 
Producers:  Barry Blair and Michael Quinlan 
Length: 12 tracks/46:47 minutes 
 
It's been three years since Considering Lily's debut hit the shelves and the time has changed them. The departure of Serene and arrival of Jeanette Herdman alongside founding member Pearl Barrett has been accompanied by a move from the brash pop of the debut towards a seemingly more sophisticated sound.

The pop sensibility is still strong but the sound is more contemporary. So it is that producer Qinlan's programmed loops join the bright, jangly guitars on the opening track. The second track is closer to this album's predecessor, but retains the electronics. Generally, the soundscapes match the clear vocal harmonies well, but at times lacks some substance. The music contains its hooks, but they don't sink in particularly deeply and after the track's end, they can fairly easily slip out again.

"Surrender to God" is the dominant theme through this album and all the songs have a sense of hope pervading them. There's nothing particularly revelatory but neither do they slip into over-reliance on cliché that such overtly Christian pop sometimes can. The twin lead vocals often sing separate parts, and this is sometimes pleasing, but it would be nice to hear a more adventurous use of the possibilities opened up by having two lead vocalists.

A most promising introduction comes on "Waiting For The Day" which is the musically darkest track on the album. In context, however, this darkness ends up sounding a little contrived. A few tracks, such as "What I Was Made For" and "Complete Me", are arranged in a somewhat leaden manner--their density pulls them down. The mix is often a little brighter than I would like, but there are some fun pop songs here that will no doubt please the fans and work well on the radio.

James Stewart (3/16/99)

With the departure of singer Serene Allison to be a full-time wife and mom, Considering Lily was in need of a like-minded singer to complement veteran Pearl Barrett, Allison's sister. ForeFront Records Vice President of A&R, Eddie de Garmo, brought together Barrett and  Jeannette Herdman (wife of Audio Adrenaline's Bob Herdman)  thinking that perhaps something would "happen"--and it did.  Herdman is not exactly a novice:  she has a solo indie album for which she was looking for a distributor before being introduced to Barrett.

The band's style has changed--the sound with Allison Barrett was more alternative with driving rhythm guitars; with Herdman there is more of a pop style but with some alternative edge still there. The women's voices are a major part of that "edge."  They're rather light at times, but can belt it out when necessary. The harmonies aren't "tight"--not necessarily a bad thing--so the melodies stand out quite a bit.  There is also a freedom in the phrasing that is pleasing to the ear.

This project, the Pieces Fit, required more than several listens to "warm up" to, but it's an able effort considering the personnel changes.  All songs were written by Barrett and Herdman, with occasional help from others. Producers Barry Blair (a former Audio A guitarist) and  Michael Quinlan also helped with the songwriting, as well as Herdman and  Barrett's husbands.  This project includes Audio A bass player, Will  McGinness, on many of the songs. Blair also plays guitar on the project.

One songs that stands out is  "Electric" (by the Barretts and Herdman). About the "electrifying" aspect of God's Love, it manages vocally and instrumentally to convey that "feeling" of excitement.  Another song, "Today"  (the Herdmans,  Barrett and Blair)]  is a joyous look  at Jesus' return.

It's impressive is that these two women--Barrett from New Zealand, and Herdma from the USA--could, soon after meeting, put together a fairly strong performance. Lyrically, however, the songs fail to capture the imagination.  There seems to be a "stream of consciousness" effect to some of the songs that is rather tiring to follow.  There are some good images and ideas, but they're just not consistent enough.  As the pair becomes even more of a unit, their lyric writing will be enhanced by their relationship.  This will be good, for their melodies are strong.  the Pieces Fit conveys how God has put them together, and in future albums we may hope for the lyrical quality to approach their melodies.

Elisa Musso