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Current Tape Reviews

Empty Chair
Artist Name:
Tom Hammel
Empty Chair
Date Posted:
October 2015
Equipment Used:

PC with Zoom R8 interface running Steinberg Cubase Elements 7 and iZotope Ozone 5. Mics: Audio-Technica AT2020 (vocals, kick) and AT2021 (snare, guitars). ART Pro MPA II preamp, M-Audio BX5 monitors, Primacoustic VoxGuard for vocal mic isolation.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Empty Chair" is a male vocal country song, Tom did it all in his "medium-sized basement rec room with hardwood floors and gypsum roc walls"

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 3
Tom tells us that he wrote and recorded "Empty Chair" as a demo for a country band that he was forming in Vancouver. His aim was to compose and present the track as "Classic Country".... which we assume does not mean the Auto-Tuned faux-'70s rock stuff that Nashville's cranking out these days. Given these parameters, let's see how Tom fared, shall we?

Our definition of "classic country" relates to the sounds and styles that emanated from Nashville (and to a lesser extent Bakersfield CA) from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, before Urban Cowboy ruined everything. Think Ray Price, George Jones, Lefty Frissell.

As with all genres, this one had its fingerprint sounds, and fortunately Tom has done his homework here. We hear subtle drums with excellent cymbal clarity, a muted "acoustic" bass sound, twangy electric guitars, and most importantly, pedal steel guitar and vocals with gobs of reverb. Oh, and a darn fine "period" composition to top things off.

Standouts here include the aforementioned cymbals (check out the beautiful sound of the stick tips on the ride cymbal) along with the rich sound on the pedal steel. We also really dug the super-tight harmony vocals. On the flip side, the mix seemed a tad bit left-centric, with the electric guitar solo, harmony vocal, and steel guitar all occupying the 11:00 slot in the stereo field at various times.

Suggestions: Tom did a great job overall here, creating a well-above-average demo that gets his ideas across via some fine performances and tones. As for the mix suggestion, it could be that Tom was striving for consistency and that is certainly his prerogative. It's also helpful to remember that many of the great recordings of yesteryear were delivered in glorious monophonic sound. Consider that, or just center those slightly left-leaning sources, Tom!

Summary: Old school is working for us.

Contact: Tom Hammel,
About: Marty Peters

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