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The Covid 19 Pandemic Blues by James R. Newell

Artist Name:
James R. Newell  Title: The COVID 19 Pandemic Blues
Genre: male vocal Americana  Rating:


JBL Pro LSR308 studio monitors, a Dell Experion computer, Mixcraft9 DAW. Toontrack EZKeys, Toontrack Superior Drummer3, Band In A Box Real Tracks. Audio Technica AT4033/CL mic, Behringer XENYX UFX1204 mixer, Sony MDR-7506 headphones. iZotope Neutron3, Nectar3, and Ozone9 and Harmonizer.


“The COVID 19 Pandemic Blues” is a male vocal Americana song. James wrote, performed, programmed, recorded and mixed the track at his home studio.

Reviewed By Marty Peters

This month’s Spotlight is a wry commentary on our current global condition and a superb example of working almost entirely “in the box.” Despite the absence of any physical instruments, the results are outstanding. Through the years, “faux” or virtual instruments have progressed from early keyboard string machines, samplers and drum machines (Linn Drum anyone?) through to the present crop of software synths and virtual instruments – an astounding progression in quality and believability. It’s also how one uses these tools that separate the wheat from the chaff, which is where James’ effort distinguishes itself. The combination of Toontrack EZKeys and Superior Drummer 3 is masterfully handled here. James did a great job, and the programming is excellent throughout. We love the use of the Nashville brushes, as the tones are ideal for the genre. The sounds he chose from Band In A Box Real Tracks are also fantastic through our monitors, particularly the Dobro, Banjo and Fiddle. While we are unsure if James plays any physical instruments, his instincts are spot on, particularly with the very believable and tasteful tom fills. Vocally James’ rich, full voice shines on this track. Dry, sans artifacts, and placed front and center in the stereo field, the vocal is perfectly placed for this “message” song. The Audio Technica AT4033/CL/, Behringer XENYX UFX1204 signal path is a winning combination. Lastly, kudos to James for the continuity of his overall mix. The well-designed panning choices give the mix plenty of air, but there is a unity to the final product that we rarely hear. Well done, sir!


Strange days indeed, as Mr. Lennon so eloquently put it (see page 26 of our upcoming November issue of RECORDING). Whether this is his standard modus operandi or a creative choice based on the new reality of social distancing, James has made skillful use of the tools at his disposal and created a great result in the bargain.


Aces from top to bottom!


James Newell, [email protected]


Readers’ Tracks