RØDE and Blue mics; Focusrite interface and plugins; K&K Sound Pure Mini Pickup; Yamaha monitors and Beyerdynamic headphones; MacBook running GarageBand.
“I’ve Been Used” is a male vocal Americana/Roots track.
Reviewed By Marty Peters
A fine overall effort here that comes up just shy of our Spotlight feature due to some minor balance and ambience issues. Greg and company have fashioned a cool recording around a breezy New Orleans/Dixieland composition—let’s take a closer look and see what’s what. The track is comprised of acoustic guitar, vocals, upright bass, clarinet, violin, and drums/percussion, and for the most part all of them feature excellent performances and tones. Greg’s lead vocal is recorded and presented with spectacular clarity. The Blue Bluebird into Focusrite Scarlett interface is totally a winning combination with Greg’s pristine voice. Nice indeed! We also love the full-bodied tone of the clarinet. The skillfully played performance lends a whimsical slant to the song that is quite appealing, and the recording is again top notch. Moving on to the rhythm section, the upright bass and brushed drum kit are lockstep tight, although the bass lacks a bit of low end presence through our monitors. The volume of what appears to be some type of percussion woodblock protrudes over the volume of the snare in spots. As for additional areas to address, the acoustic guitar has a somewhat muffled tone compared to the clarity of the vocals and clarinet. We also feel that the violin could have fared better here—the tone seems a bit scratchy at times, and its distant placement in the mix seems at odds with the uber-present clarinet throughout the track, creating an imbalance in the stereo field. We also hear an ambience discrepancy between Greg’s vocal and the clarinet as well. The amount of reverb on the voice versus the bone dry woodwind instrument seems to reverse what we would consider a more balanced approach, with the vocal in the foreground and the clarinet set back in the mix a bit.
As we said at the top, this is a really strong effort and won’t require much to address the issues we found. Starting with the acoustic guitar, a bit more microphone and a little less pickup in the mix would likely brighten up the sound here. We’d love just a touch more bottom end on the bass, and we’d relegate the percussion to a secondary/tertiary position in the sound field. As for the violin, we suggest that Greg apply some additional compression, and also do an EQ sweep between 1.5 kHz and 5 kHz with a steep Q function, in order to suss out the harshness. Lastly, in our opinion Greg’s fine vocal performance should be in the forefront of the recording. To that end, we advise him to take half the reverb off of his voice, put it on the clarinet and reverse their presence in the mix.
Greg Barresi, [email protected]