Artist Name: Joe Boudet Title: Silk Robe, Garden Flowers Genre: Americana/Country Rock
DAW – Avid Pro Tools (24/96k resolution); Interface – Universal Audio Apollo 8 (Black) and Apogee AD-16X linked via lightpipe for 16 track simultaneous recording.
Drums were recorded mostly through a late 70s Soundcraft 200 board, modified for direct outs and low noise.
Acoustic guitars are two Martin models recorded with a Schoeps spot mic augmented by a stereo condenser pair at approximately 7’ distance.
Vocals were captured with an early Microtech Gefell UM92 (refurbished at the factory), through a stock UA 1176 “classic.”
The bass is a Fender P Bass with a DiMarzio pickup, sent to a Matchless Clubman as well as DI.
Other preamps and compressors used in the session were: a modified 1970s dbx 161 pair, UA 2-610 tube preamps, and highly modified CAPI preamp kits with different iron and Deane Jensen’s 918 discrete Op-amp designs.
Fuzz slide guitar tone was achieved via a copy of a Jordan Boss Tone and a phaser, sent DI to a UA 610 preamp. The pedal steel guitar was recorded via a class D solid state amp as well as a DI with subtle phasing and reverb added after.
Reverb was provided mostly by the UA Capitol Chambers plugin.
Mixed down to 1/4” half-track analog tape (RTM SM900) on a restored and modified Otari MTR-10 tape machine. The mix was then recaptured to digital at 24/192k for mastering and is made available to the listener in that resolution.
Joe Bourdet – Guitars, Bass, Fuzzy Slide Guitar, Vocals and Producer/Engineer. Recorded at Mountain Sounds Recorders in Los Angeles.
Will Scott – Drums
Connor Catfish Gallaher – Pedal Steel Guitar
“Silk Robe, Garden Flowers” is an Americana/Country Rock style song cowritten by Joe and Alana Amram, daughter of legendary composer David Amram—Mountain Sounds ASCAP, Alanasaurus Rex SESAC
“Silk Robe, Garden Flowers” is Joe Bourdet’s first follow-up to the Meadow Rock album.
Reviewed By Dave Martin
There’s something marvelous about hearing a song for the first time and feeling a sense of familiarity. That’s not to imply that “Silk Robe, Garden Flowers” sounds derivative in any way. For me, it’s simply that the song, the instrumentation and the harmony vocals have the vibe of the California country of the late 1960s and 70s—from Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and Poco through the Flying Burrito Brothers, Pure Prairie League and the Eagles. It was an enormously creative era that still influences songwriters and musicians, with Bourdet’s song being a fine example of the genre.
A couple of the instruments on this recording deserve special mention. The slide guitar reminded me of the late David Lindley’s sound, and the pedal steel track could have been played by Sneaky Pete Kleinow or Rusty Young—California steel players of that era approached the instrument in a different way than the steel players in Nashville. I think both the slide and the pedal steel sound great in this setting.
Bourdet’s vocal work (recorded with an older Gefell UM92 and a UA 1176) is especially nice on this song. The layers of background vocals that he created support the lyrics without getting in the way. Bourdet also played all of the guitars and bass. The acoustic guitars were recorded with a Schoeps mic close to the instrument, with a stereo pair of condensers to capture some room sound. The slide guitar sound was recorded direct with a Jordan Boss Tone and a phase shifter. The pedal steel was recorded through a solid-state amp and with a DI and the phase shifter and reverb were added later. While the sound of the drums was influenced by the 70s Soundcraft 200 board used to record it, what makes the drum track special is the way that the drummer, Will Scott, played in an understated controlled manner that absolutely fit the song.
When a song is written, recorded and mixed by folks who know what they’re doing, I generally just enjoy the work that they’ve done to bring the project to fruition. And this is a well-done, and quite enjoyable project. However, a couple of minor things caught my ear that might be of interest to readers who don’t necessarily know this style of music well.
Consider that the steel and the slide guitar each have three roles in this track—they can play fills (the melodic phrases around the vocal lines are called fills because they fill the spaces between each line of the lyric), they can play pads (essentially, held notes or chords that help to pad out the harmonic information in the rhythm section) and they can act as a solo instrument.
You could think of the difference as being one of intention. If the instrument is supposed to stand out in a given section, it’s likely a fill. If the instrument is supposed to be more of a texture in the track, it’s more than likely a pad. Both pedal steel and slide guitar have boatloads of sustain, so the difference between a fill and a pad can be fairly subtle. As a mixer, you can help to differentiate between fills and pads with volume control—fills should be a bit louder than pads. The third role for each instrument is as a solo instrument—in the intro, between sections, and during any solos. The volume of each instrument should reflect its role at that point in the song.
When a track is created with overdubs (as this one was, Bourdet played everything except steel and drums). The two things that are common are that (A) it’s easy to forget the original idea as new instruments are added to the recording and (B) the last thing to be recorded is probably the loudest in the headphones and monitors. While neither of these may be the reason for the other thing I noticed, I’ve certainly been surprised by both of them in my career.
Notice that the steel guitar is the dominant instrument during the first four measures of the intro section, so it’s playing the solo role. It seems to me that the steel player may have heard the electric guitar part in the second half of the intro, and went from playing a melody to more of a pad. If I were wearing my producer hat, I would have either brought the steel down and the guitar up in the second half of the intro or ducked the electric guitar and let the steel take the whole intro. To my ear, these four measures were just a little messy, and since it happened at the beginning of the track, I noticed it more than I might have later in the recording.
I’m treating this as a suggestion for readers, not a complaint about this recording; I like Joe’s playing skills and his engineering skills, so what I heard may simply have been the producer’s decision. But it’s an opportunity to talk about fills, pads and solos, which aren’t as common in pop music as they once were—so I took it.
A textbook example of a fine new song recorded in a way that captures the vibe of a classic era. I definitely like this approach and I look forward to hearing more from Joe Bourdet.