Artist Name: Rubendale Title: Thinking About You Genre: Modern Country Rating:
Computer/DAW – Mac Book Pro running Logic Pro.
Interface– Apogee Duet 2
Microphones – Shure SM57 (Electric Guitar Amp), AKG 414XLII (Acoustic Guitars), Neumann U87ai (Vocals)
Monitors – Genelec 8030C
Headphones – Audio-Technica ATH M70x (Mixing), AKG K240 (Tracking)
Plugins – Logic Pro Plugins, Waves SSL Channel strip and CLA-2A (Vocals)
Virtual Instruments – Drums created and edited using Logic Pro Virtual Drummers; all (non-guitar) instruments are Logic Pro, except virtual horns were augmented with real saxophone
“Thinking About You” was produced, written and recorded by Walter Gabbard and co-produced with Ruben Fernandez.
Reviewed By Dave Martin
The solo piano and vocal intro start the story of a love gone wrong. The song builds to the chorus, where (virtual & real sax) horn parts join in.
The guitar solo, with a clean-ish tremolo sound, is very nice. A virtual organ backs the guitar solo, followed by a breakdown verse supported by acoustic guitars. There’s a nice vamp/bridge with more tasteful horn backing and, finally, a restatement of the first verse/section. However, how the guitars and arpeggiated piano played the final section was a nice change from the introductory verse.
Rubendale’s “Thinking About You” is a fine example of using changes in instrumentation to add sonic interest and differentiate sections of the tune. As the song progresses, percussion, different snare sounds, the parts the acoustic guitars play, and even the places a harmony voice shows up on individual lines––all of these things can make a song more interesting. This attention to detail in the arrangement and the production of this song succeeds at that.
The temptation, of course, is that with the unlimited number of tracks available in today’s workstations, it’s easy to keep adding interesting parts. Then the issue is trying to find a place in the mix for those parts to be noticeable to the listener.
As is my usual practice, I listened to “Thinking About You” on my studio monitors, on the speakers in my MacBook Air, and on my Westone ES60 IEMs; I found it interesting that elements that I didn’t hear, for example, on the studio monitors were a lot more present when listening on the laptop. It didn’t necessarily mean that the mix was ‘better’ or ‘worse’ in one listening environment than another ––just that it was different.
There’s an old-school vibe to “Thinking About You” that I enjoy ––the tremolo guitar solo with the organ is very cool. I also liked both what the acoustic guitars played and how they were recorded; the rhythm track sounded very much like an actual well-thought-out performance than is often the case where one person plays and layers all the instruments.
While the vital part of the song (as always) is the story, the texture of the lead vocalist’s voice in “Thinking About You” is really interesting and makes me believe the story. There are not a lot of effects on the lead vocal––a bit of verb (most audible in the intro), and it is all that’s needed.
As I mentioned, some low-volume mix elements seemed drowned out by louder instruments in certain listening environments. To mitigate this sort of thing, it’s often worth using the stereo field to find a place for those elements where they don’t fight for space. Carving out a space with EQ is another option; for example, if you have a shaker that’s most present at, say, 1.5kHz, it’s worth experimenting with cutting 1.5kHz on some other instrument to make room for the shaker.
If there’s a specific thing I would suggest revisiting on this recording, it would be the horn parts on the choruses. The horns on the section beginning at 3:19 felt lovely––something that Burt Bacharach and Hal David would have put on a Dionne Warwick song––but in the chorus, it seemed to me that both the concept and the execution could use a bit more thought. The horns didn’t seem to add a lot to the chorus, and the timing of those parts was looser than it should have been.
The first of these comments (about whether they added to the chorus) is simply another guy’s opinion, but I would suggest listening to the song as though for the first time; see what you think of those lines on re-listening.
A fun song with well-done production performed by a cool-sounding vocalist, with a great guitar solo!