Artist Name: My Wildest Dreams Title: O Holy Night Genre: Seasonal Rating:
Computer – Toshiba laptop; DAW – Cubase Pro 8.5; Interface – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2; Guitar – Shishkov electric guitar; Amps – AMPLIFi FX100 amp modeler and DigiTech RP350 amp modeler; Plugins – Cubase, Slate Digital and Waves; Virtual Instruments – Spitfire Audio Originals and LABS; Headphones – Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
“O Holy Night” is a Christmas song that should be familiar to most listeners. The song is based on a French-language poem written in 1843 by Placide Cappeau, with the melody composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847. The English version is by John Sullivan Dwight.
This version was arranged, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by John O’Neil in the comfort of his dining room. John used reference mixes during mixing and mastering to ensure the song translated well on other systems (cars, earbuds, desktops, home, etc.).
The vocals are by Jenny G, whom John collaborated with after finding her on SoundBetter.com.SoundBetter.com
Reviewed By Dave Martin
It’s December and the perfect time for a Christmas song, and this is a cool approach to a classic piece of music. What initially caught my ear was the chord choices John chose to use in his arrangement (especially the second chord in the song’s first line), but what sold me on it was the vocals. The first time I heard the recording I believed the singer. She does a great job of delivering the lyric’s message without getting in the way of that message.
Like many of us, I’ve heard this song performed with instrumentation ranging from a single acoustic guitar to a full orchestra with a choir. John chose to use a fairly intimate setting, primarily electric guitar, with piano, strings and some bell-like tones, with subtle percussion added later.
His instrumental setting provides a lovely support for vocalist Jenny G.’s performance; her vocals are light and breathy at the beginning of the piece, more focused and direct on the high notes, yet without the bombast that so often mars recordings of “O Holy Night.” The harmony vocals reinforce the lead vocal without calling attention to themselves. The guitar tone works excellently here, and the interplay of the harmonic instruments throughout the recording is very well done.
If there is one suggestion that I would make, it would be to consider either lowering the level of the low string pad by a couple of dB or thinning out the sound with a bit of EQ; there were a couple of points where I felt that the string pad was starting to mask some of the other things going on.
I like everything about this piece—the concept and the execution of the arrangement, as well as the vocal performance. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the singer, and that’s what I look for in a vocalist—I want to believe them.
Great job and Happy Holidays, and to all, a good night!
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.