Simple Gifts


After a gap of 10 years, The King’s Singers have once again made a full a cappella studio album featuring sixteen stunning arrangements of pop ballads, spirituals and folksongs.

Each track on this album has earned its place because of its great melody and, coupled with the impeccable style for which the group are justly famous, this album will delight its huge worldwide fan base.

The King’s Singers’ incredible blend and tuning ensures that this is the classiest recording of its genre for a long time.


What people are saying

” … always conveying the sheer joy of singing”

“Arguably, the most popular a cappella group of all time”

Primarily A Cappella

“They’ve sung with Mouskouri, premiered works by Berio, Maxwell Davies and Ligeti, and revived 16th-century partsongs. And that’s just the tip of the group’s classical music iceberg.”

Classic FM Magazine – Top 5 Choral Groups feature

The King’s Singers

David Hurley
Robin Tyson
Paul Phoenix
Philip Lawson
Christopher Gabbitas
Stephen Connolly

Release date:28th Apr 2008
Order code:SIGCD121
Barcode: 635212012123, May 2008

It’s hard to believe that this is the King’s Singers’ 40th anniversary season, but this newly recorded program comes as part of the celebration. Of course, over the years the names have changed, the record labels have changed, but the group of six male singers continues to do what it’s always done: perform a near-limitless range of repertoire with exceptional technical polish, assured sense of style, and captivating personality, spiced with occasional humour and always conveying the sheer joy of singing, whether in a Byrd motet, a folksong arrangement, or a Beatles tune.

For listeners who primarily identify with the King’s Singers’ classical-oriented programs, you should know that this is definitely not a “classical” album. Rather, nearly half of the songs are pop tunes (from James Taylor to Billy Joel to Paul Simon and Sting), and the rest – spirituals, ballads, and folksongs – feature arrangements that place them squarely in that genre. Of course, those arrangements are typically first-rate, owing primarily to the expertise of current ensemble member Philip Lawson and former King’s Singer Bob Chilcott, both of whom have long experience supplying the group with fresh, original musical creations. New to this CD are Lawson’s settings of Sting’s “Valparaiso”, Paul Simon’s “April Come She Will”, Randy Newman’s “When She Loved Me”, and James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes”.

Besides appreciating the impeccable vocals and clever, invariably entertaining arrangements of well-known songs (“Deep River”, “Steal Away”, “She’s Always a Woman”), you can’t help but notice–and possibly be distracted by–the sound, whose highly processed quality and close perspective can make the voices seem both uncomfortably near and otherworldly. It’s a sonic cast–all done in a studio–that’s quite different from other King’s Singers recordings; some listeners will love it, others will, well, have to get used to it. And certainly, if you love this group–and who doesn’t?–you’ve probably already reserved a place on the shelf.

David Vernier

Primarily A Cappella, June 08

“Simple Gifts” is a very rare and special gift to us, as it represents the first full a cappella studio album by the legendary King’s Singers in 10 years. Arguably, the most popular a cappella group of all time, whose flawless harmonies grace over 30 finely-crafted CDs and a slew of songbooks in the Primarily A Cappella online catalogue, we will assume that you know how good these six British men really are.

So let’s talk about some of the 16 carefully-selected songs: Billy Joel’s classic “She’s Always A Woman,” James Taylor’s sublime “You Can Close Your Eyes,” the traditional joyous round “The Gift to Be Simple,” Stephen Stills’ harmonic CSN&Y gem “Helplessly Hoping,” some wonderfully-arranged spirituals, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Deep River,” “The Water is Wide” and “Steal Away,” all of which feature some sweet deep bass leads. Randy Newman’s poignant “When She Loved Me,” Sting’s “Valparaiso,” Paul Simon’s “April Come She Will”…these are some of our picks for the most beautiful songs of all time. They are arranged by group members Phillip Lawson, Bob Chilcott and Peter Knight, and then sung as beautifully as you can imagine by the King’s Singers. The King’s Singers incredible blend and tuning goes to ensure that this is probably their finest recording in a long time. Enough said!

Classic FM Magazine, July 2008

Beautiful singing and exceptional diction but the arrangements are a little bland. The folk/pop repertoire – Deep River, Greensleeves, Swing Low, Valparaiso, etc. – needs biting harmonies to offset the silky King’s Singers style.

Rick Jones

Minnesota Public Radio, 26th August 2008

In “Simple Gifts,” the King’s Singers bring their signature a cappella sound to songs like Helplessly Hoping and She’s Always a Woman. It’s a successful venture into a fraught category — crossover.

St. Paul, Minn. — Before I begin, I feel I need to issue a disclaimer. I am not a big fan of the crossover.

There. I said it. Whether it’s symphonic Yes or renaissance Sting, it usually leaves me cold. Don’t even get me started on Michael Bolton’s CD of opera arias.

I know the continuing evolution of music relies on re-imagining what’s been done before, subverting the dominant paradigm or whatever. I’m just saying, sometimes it works — and sometimes, not so much.

And then there’s the stuff which, by my reckoning, shouldn’t work, but does.

For example, You Can Close Your Eyes by James Taylor. That’s from the latest disc by the men of the King’s Singers, who’ve done everything from madrigals to the Beatles. The group’s latest release is a pop-folk album called “Simple Gifts.”

I was fully prepared to hate this CD, my finger poised to skip ahead to the next mockable cover tune. But I couldn’t. It was just too…what? Groovy? No. Authentic? Noooo. It was just too…good.

Listen to the stereophonic delight that arranger Philip Lawson sets as a backdrop for Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman.

He uses the background voices to similar effect in his arrangement of Steven Stills’ Helplessly Hoping. But in that case, it’s essentially a straight transcription of the original song’s instrumental background.

There are a few traditional tunes you won’t be surprised to find, like The Water is Wide and Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair. But even these familiar songs have a different edge to them.

Part of that edge comes from the arrangements created by Bob Chilcott, Peter Knight and King’s Singer Philip Lawson. The background voices ebb and flow in prominence, moving from choral counterpoint to rhythm section to pedal organ.

It’s also a result of the recording process. Instead of the usual method of recording the whole group, singing together, this CD was constructed in the studio, track by individual track. Sometimes the songs are a little too slickly produced, resulting in a tunnel-of-sound effect.

Part of the success of any cover album is the strength of the original songs. As someone who grew up listening to James Taylor, Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel and Billy Joel, there’s no denying that nostalgia plays a large part in my fondness for this CD. Some songs are just good.

Valerie Kahler

  1. She?s Always a Woman – –
  2. You Can Close Your Eyes – –
  3. Greensleeves – –
  4. The Gift to be Simple – –
  5. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – –
  6. Helplessly Hoping – –
  7. Deep River – –
  8. Black is the Color – –
  9. I Love my Love – –
  10. The Water is Wide – –
  11. When She Loved Me – –
  12. Valparaiso – –
  13. The Turtle Dove – –
  14. April Come She Will – –
  15. Steal Away – –
  16. You are the New Day – –

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