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Hugs at home and wages at work cover art

Artist Name:
Tim McCarthy Title: Hugs at Home and Wages at Work  Genre: Country  Rating:


(listed as submitted by artist): Audio Technica condenser microphone; AKG K240 headphones; Tascam 2488 Portastudio recorder; Martin acoustic guitar with LR Baggs pickup.


“Hugs at Home and Wages at Work” is a male vocal country song. Tim did it all in his home studio.

Reviewed By Marty Peters

Tim has submitted a stripped-down track done on his standalone Tascam 2488 recorder, one that serves as a nice demo in our opinion. The recording starts with a fairly processed acoustic guitar laying down a solid rhythm with a distinct rock ‘n’ roll edge. The sound here is definitely on the plugged-in/onboard pickup side of the spectrum. Next in line are the lead and backing vocals, pushed slightly forward in the mix. These are mostly delivered without any over-compression or artifacts, though in a few spots the phrasing gets off. Near the fifty second mark, Tim brings in some guitar fills that act as a nice compliment to the proceedings, though their level is a bit high against the vocals through our monitors. Lastly, touching back on the vocals, Tim seemed to have bumped their volume a tad in the outro, leading to some noticeable distortion as the track fades.


Relatively easy fixes are in order here. Starting with the acoustic guitar tone, while Tim may have gone for the direct plugged-in in approach for convenience, any time there’s a microphone available we urge folks to employ it on an acoustic guitar. Having both the direct and mic-recorded sounds available offers myriad options in terms of tone, ambience, placement and panning. Regarding the vocals, we urge Tim to reference The Everly Brothers as a blueprint for his performance here; truly one of the gold standards for close harmony singing. In the meantime, a redo to tighten up the phrasing would be advisable. Lastly, though it may be meager by today’s unlimited track count DAW options, the Tascam 2488 multitracker still has a ton of firepower. We suggest that Tim slap an onboard compressor across his lead vocal track with a threshold ratio strong enough to tame the volume spike near the song’s end. We would also like to hear a somewhat wider stereo field in play, and placing the lead guitar fills and solo out from center a little more offers the perfect opportunity to let it shine without overwhelming the singing.


A very solid start!


Tim McCarthy, [email protected]


Readers’ Tracks