Artist Name:
Conor & The Wild Hunt   Title: Lavender  Genre: Progressive Americana   Rating:


DAW – Pro Tools; Console – Yamaha DM2000; Interface – MOTU 2408 (x2); Microphones – Audio-Technica AT4050 and AT4033a, Heil mics and Neumann KMS 105; Instruments – Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic, Kurtzmann piano, real violins, real drums, bass, etc.; Plugins – Pro Limiter, Big Clipper; Monitors – Mackie HR824; Headphones – Audio-Technica ATH MX50x and Sony 7506


“Lavender” is a three-movement progressive Americana piece written by Conor Brendan and released by Conor & The Wild Hunt. Conor plays guitar, bass and banjo, and sings lead and background vocals. Chris Elvidge is the drummer and background vocalist. Max Brown plays electric guitar, Kait El plays violins, and Joanne Dodds adds background vocals. “Lavender” was produced and engineered by Conor’s dad, Bill Mueller.

“Lavender” begins with an American-ish vibe, while the vocals start the story of the Hobbits’ adventures in Middle Earth. The second movement is darker, with lyrics retelling the conversation between Frodo and Sam, while the third movement celebrates Frodo’s success in destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth.

Review By Dave Martin

References to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth are not uncommon in both rock and prog music; Led Zeppelin’s songs might be the best known, but Black Sabbath (“Wizard”), Megadeth (“This Day We Fight”), Joni Mitchell (“I Think I Understand”), Rush (“Rivendell”), and even Nickel Creek (“In The House of Tom Bombadill”) all show the influence of The Lord of the Rings.

Conor & The Wild Hunt’s “Lavender” is a lovely recording, with unexpected textures on first listening, yet perfectly appropriate as the piece progresses. A banjo that helps lift the first section doesn’t call attention to itself until the end of the first section—though it would be missed if it weren’t present. The second section of the track includes real violins playing a melody. At the same time, the story is moved along with a call-and-response duet, and the final section features wordless vocals supported by lead guitar—another unexpected touch.

As I listened to “Lavender,” three things were apparent. First, the recording seems to have been planned; I would guess that Conor spent a good deal of time writing the piece and had a vision of the final production (string and vocal parts in particular). Second, the performances, both the vocal parts and the instruments, were exceptionally well done. I don’t hear anything on the recording that sounds like it was ‘good enough.’ Someone had high expectations for the performances and worked until they met those expectations. And finally, the same level of care was taken on the production side; the individual tracks sound great and the mix is wonderful.

Dave’s Suggestions

This production reflects the artist’s vision, and as such, anything I suggest would be contrary to that vision. But I’ll take this opportunity to remind our readers how even small adjustments can have a big impact—both positive and negative.

For example, in the first few measures of the song notice where the banjo sits in the mix; it’s in a supporting role. If it had been even a dB or two hotter, the feel of the intro (and therefore, the verse that follows) would have been quite different—not better or worse, necessarily, but it would have changed the feel.

Another subtle example is the short pause between the first and second sections of the piece (about 3:09). What would the effect have been if the pause had been a half-second longer? What would the effect have been if the pause had been a half-second shorter?

Conor Brendan’s father, Bill Mueller, was the producer/engineer on “Lavender.” Bill is a Grammy® nominated engineer with decades of experience. I mention Bill because while I understand and applaud the DIY aspect of home recording, I also understand the role that those years of experience can bring to creating a great-sounding record.

On “Lavender,” the musicians created the magic, the engineer captured it, and the producer worked to realize the musicians’ vision. My final suggestion is to consider whether bringing in an outside producer/engineer can work for your project if your time and budget allow you to do so.


Conor & The Wild Hunt’s “Lavender” is a marvelous recording—congratulations to all involved with the production!


Dave Martin is a producer, engineer and bassist. Dave owned Nashville’s Java Jive Studio for close to 25 years. Dave has recorded, produced and/or played with symphony orchestras, rock and roll icons and country music legends ranging from the Old Crow Medicine Show, The Dead Pickers Society, Porter Wagoner, Robben Ford, Billy Cobham, The Box Tops, Carl Verheyen, Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), Adrian Belew, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Eric Johnson, Robbie Fulks, Steve Vai, The Coasters and others. Dave is also a member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame.


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