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Current Tape Reviews

Artist Name:
Megan Birmingham / Malderine's One Girl Band
Date Posted:
April 2016
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

Core 2 Quad PC with Digidesign Digi 002 Rack running ProTools LE 7.4. Shure SM44 mic for vocals, A&L acoustic guitar, cello, violin, and flute, IK Multimedia T-RackS mastering software and Sampletank drum loop.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Leaves" is a female vocal rock song. Megan wrote, sang, performed, programmed and recorded the track at her home studio.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 3
Megan has submitted a fine track here overall, albeit one with a few minor areas that could be tweaked a bit to our ears. Instrumentally, the playing and recording is excellent. We love the tone and the performance on both the fingerstyle acoustic guitar and the cello, and the blend of the two instruments in the mix creates quite a nice hypnotic weave. Megan has thankfully employed the same subtle skills with the percussion and flute sounds throughout the track. Saving the best for last, the beautifully performed/tracked violin near the song's outro puts a firm stamp on Megan's superb musicianship. With its aching ancient sound and rich tone, the violin seals the deal for us!

As for those areas of concern, the drum loop presented here is just about as basic as they come; itís really nothing more than a click track. While it works perfectly in that capacity, we would have loved to have heard something a tad more developed in terms of sounds. Our primary issue with "Leaves", however, is not the drum loop, but rather the somewhat strident sound of Megan's lead vocal. Though delivered in the softest possible manner, there is a sharpness on many of the words containing "d's" and "t's" that is really distracting throughout the song. Whether this was an EQ issue or derived from monitoring/mic choice, in our opinion it's spoiling an otherwise excellent effort.

Suggestions: Congratulations are in order first and foremost. In her production notes, Megan relayed that she was a bit nervous about submitting "Leaves" to us. Well, let us say that her fears were unfounded! Not only do we hear an accomplished musician in this piece, but the tracking/mixing end of things is pretty darn solid for a self-taught recordist.

As for suggestions, finding a drum-minded collaborator to help with the programming would be a positive step. Regarding the vocal "nasties", as we have mentioned several times recently, not every mic marries up well with every voice. Megan's Shure KSM44 is an outstanding mic, and we have found it to be impressively neutral on all of the sound sources that we've used it on. That said, large-capsule condenser mics are, by design, more high-frequency orientated. If Megan can get access to a dynamic or ribbon microphone, we would encourage her to A/B it with her Shure to see if the less exaggerated high end found in those mic types would be a better fit for her voice. Failing that, going back and applying a bit of shelving EQ starting at around 6.5 kHz and upward to the vocal may settle it down some.

Summary: Tons of talent -- just a few tweaks needed!

Contact: Megan Birmingham,
About: Marty Peters

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