Satin Dolls Release First Album, “Dolls”

Fordham’s Satin Dolls had to navigate many challenges while recording the album during a pandemic. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Fordham’s Satin Dolls had to navigate many challenges while recording the album during a pandemic. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Kari White, Contributing Writer

On Nov. 5, Fordham’s all-female a cappella group released their first album on Spotify and Apple Music. While the group had discussed the possibility of releasing an album for years, the world grinding to a halt last year gave them a unique opportunity to bring those dreams to fruition. The resulting product, “Dolls,” contains eight spectacular arrangements from their fall 2020 setlist that exhibits the Satin Dolls’ fun, skill and artistry. 

The story of the album’s creation hinges upon the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave them the time to record but also posed significant challenges. 

Julia Leahy, FCRH ’23, explained that during the spring semester, the Satin Dolls typically gear up for the International Championship of Collegiate Acapella (ICCA). For those not as knowledgeable about the world of a cappella, “it’s the ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition,” said Leahy. Preparing for the competition requires a lot of time, practice and dedication that does not allow for a lot of free time. As such, recording an album in a regular year is less than achievable. Last year, however, was not a regular year. The ICCAs went virtual, and the Satin Dolls decided to take a year off and record an album. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Dolls, their sound mixer Nicky Brenner and everyone else involved in the project to figure out the safest way they could record. They decided to have the Dolls record in pairs, with one singer on either side of the room. Each pair recorded for 30 minute at a time, adding up to days that lasted about 10 hours. Because each pair recorded more than one session in a day, they spent the two weeks wandering around Hell’s Kitchen filling up the hours between their recording sessions. 

According to Leahy, the two greatest challenges they faced were recording their set from fall 2020 while simultaneously learning their new set for spring 2021, and being so far away from their partner in the booth that they could barely hear them. 

Tragedy struck when a COVID-19 scare occurred in the middle of recording. “Luckily, everyone got tested, and it was all good … We know that it didn’t come from the Dolls and it didn’t spread to the Dolls, which was our main concern at the time of recording,” Leahy said, proving the efficacy of their COVID-safe measures. 

Despite the disappointment of missing the ICCAs and the stress of recording in the midst of the pandemic, the Dolls managed to create a terrific album. Their chosen songs cover a broad range of time, genre and tone. 

Each of the songs showcase the member’s individual musical talents and the amazing arrangements that the Doll’s music director and assistant music director put together. Their cover of “My Tears Ricochet,” written by Taylor Swift, was a favorite of both Leahy and myself. One would hardly think that a cappella could capture the atmospheric quality of that song, but they are able to do it. 

My personal favorite from the album was their cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” which evokes the same epic longing as the original song. It also exhibits the diversity of their skills, as one group of dolls sings the long, slower notes of the piano, while a second adds the sharp, fast beats of the drum. The arrangement consists of so many layers that one could listen to it ten times and still be unable to distinguish each one. Their voices ring like a bell, clear and pure. 

Still, if Elton John and Taylor Swift aren’t really your thing, their covers of “Oops! … I Did It Again” and “Doin’ Time” remind their audience of how fun a cappella can be. It’s not all moody ballads and lost loves; it’s also a group of musicians having fun and working hard. The effort they poured into those 10 hour days flies through the speakers, trumped only by their obvious love for the music and one another. 

So, why are you still here? Hurry over to either Spotify or Apple Music! And, (if you like the album) make sure to attend the Satin Doll’s upcoming concert on Dec. 4, which will be held at Fordham Prep. Follow them on Instagram, @fordhamsatindolls, to stay up to date with all their concerts, shows and upcoming events.