At last I recorded "Look at you" a 42 year old original pop song. Let me know what you think

This is a song I wrote when I was 18. Very much in love (as one tends to be at that age) with the girl who’s deep brown eyes I was drowning in. Unfortunately for me I was just another guy for her. But that hadn’t quite sunk in at that time. It’s terribly melodramatic (with teardrops flooding roads and such), again - as one could well be at that age, but I somehow like it all the same. My audience tends to like this as well, so it was about time I recorded it.
To my ears very much a seventies song. I’m curious if any of you have any comparisons in mind.
And of course there’s the mix… Getting better I hope, but there’s so much to learn and so little time.

And here’s the update two and a half weeks on:

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An interesting composition… the Doors-like keyboard intro with a very slight off key blip at about 17/18s and another one at about 2 min 15s?

Anyway, putting those blips to one side I really liked the backing vocals. They weren’t overused, and for me cut in when needed. The vocals in general are one of the main plusses!

Bass: Nice use of the low end in places; just like the backing vocals not overdone, simply there when needed.

Very curious ending though… 1m 21s of silence!

It’s 0130 in the UK now. I’m sat chilling out on the bed after gigging earlier, and this mellow number has left me well relaxed :blush:

This is in pretty good shape Evert… On the keyboards, I don’t hear the offkey bit at 17 sec but I do hear an off note on the keys at 2:15ish. Also at a bit before 2 min, the keys hit some seventh chords that seem a bit out of place to my ear.

The only other thing I’m wanting to hear is a more pronounced kick drum. The snare and cymbals are dominating the drum sound, and with your prominent bass guitar, the kick could stand to come up some to support it. Plus I’d add some saturation or grit to the bass as well, it’s very round and smooth and a bit of edge could help propel the rhythm.

And yeah, you have a bunch of dead air on the end… also, I can hear some clothing rustle or some such right after the music stops, so you’ll want to do some editing there…

Overall nice work! And a pretty good composition for a kid!

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Thanks for the replies. Glad you like the old song. I’m not sure about the comments on the off key keyboard (could be either organ or piano). I used a couple of seventh chords on purpose in the build up to the chorus, doesn’t sound off key to me…
But maybe it’s something I’m not hearing. I’ll check on my monitors when I fire up next time.

Forgot about that … I think I know why though: I used a reference track to try and get the balance right in the lower fq’s. The track was substantially longer than mine, and even though it was muted at rendering, it did determine the length of the rendered track.

The kick/ bass balance was difficult to get right on this recording (all right, is difficult on every recording :cry:). When I listed back in my car I thought the kick had a bit too much click. Maybe a bit less click and a bit more bass at 60 - 80 Hz. I’ll give it a try.
I did add a subtle bit of saturation to the bass already. Somehow adding real distortion to a bass is an idea I find hard to accept (I don’t like the sound by itself), even though I understand why it works in a mix. I will try it though! Any tips on the sort of distortion that works well?

What do you think of the acoustic guitar sound? I was a bit disappointed listening in the car, I thought the acoustic sounds a bit harsh.
And what about the balance between acoustic and electric guitars?

Ah! Sensitive souls unite!.. Nice - I like the rambling nature of the narrative over the descending chord progression - very 70s indeed. It kind of reminds me a little of things in the Dylan/Al Stewart/Gerry Rafferty/early Dire Straits vein.

Mix-wise, I have a few suggestions…

I feel the vocals are a little boxy - maybe some cuts in the 400hz range would help. The lead vocal is also quite dry-sounding. To get that authentic 70s sound a nice subtle plate reverb model, combined with some generous pre-delay might be cool.

The electric rhythm guitar is also a bit boxy sounding - some cuts in a similar area to the vocal might give it a bit more of a “classy” sound. Is there an acoustic in there too? That has a little too much low-mid bulk as well. At present, the acoustic and electric are fighting each other for space in the low mids. Try to give them some separation, so the electric handles the bulk of the high mids, and the acoustic wraps around it, with some shimmer in the highs and less in the 1-3k range.

The drums sound quite good, although the kick seems to be missing it’s bottom octave - it needs a little welly around the 50-60hz mark to drive the low end a bit.

The bass is similar - it seems to have a lot from around 100-300hz, but not much nice full low end. Try sculpting the low mids and low end to give more definition to the bass and kick, so that they support and drive the song along, rather than just sit there passively.

Thanks Andrew,
Yes the vocals are a bit boxy. Probably from the reverb. I used a room in stead of a plate with both a high and low pass filter so lots of lower mids. I will try a plate with pre-delay, that sounds like a better idea.

The electric rhythm guitar is a Tele switched to the bridge pup. On hindsight I thought the tone was a bit too jangly so I chose a different amp plugin and turned down the treble and presence until I liked it. I 'm not sure I want to revert back to the original sound, but I’ll try. Or maybe another guitar? Or recording it through a real amp?
The acoustic is certainly there, quite dominant to my ears (I am a singer songwriter after all). Maybe a bit less would help, including some cuts in the higher mids. I’ll try that.

The kick does need a bit more sub bass. That was already on my list. But not the bass guitar, it would get in the way of the kick wouldn’t it?.

So back to work…

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Nice… such a catchy tune. I especially like the bridge, I want to jam along. Oh the heartbreak of that wonderful age, 40 years ago, I so very much relate!

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Well, I finally got round to a new mix of the song (added it to my first post). As well as some editing, adding an other voice in the chorus. I tried Dave’s idea of adding some grit to the bass, but I did’nt like the sound of it in the mix. In the end I used a pretty straight DI of the bass and mixed that with a more distorted bass through the amp plug.
I cut out quite a lot of mud, not just from the vocals and their reverb. Changed the room to a plate. And added some compression and a limiter on the master bus.
It sounds a lot better to my ears now than the version I put up before. Would you all agree?
Any last thoughts would be appreciated!

Hi Nice tune. really like what is going on at the minute mark. It comes alive there. The chorus is very nice. Old songs are good songs. good work



Hey Evert - Big improvement with the latest mix… nice - You’ve nixed a lot of the boxiness that was happening. The guitars sound much clearer. The snare also sounds a lot better.

The kick drum is still kind of MIA though. It sounds to me like it needs more top and bottom and less low mid around 400-500hz, where it’s getting eaten up by the bass. Definitely progress! :+1:

The song idea is strong here, I suppose this is pop rock. I like the way you took a straightforward chord prog and then slapped those bluesy electric rock lines on top to close out the verses. Altogether this was a smart arrangement, quirky catchy 70s type sound for sure. I can understand why you resurrected it, giving it a little more justice it is due.

I hear how the first version is a little too heavy on the low end, especially the vocals. Boxy? Hmmm, maybe that is true.

It isn’t a bad sound though. You sang it very well, not The Voice level, but your deep register has such a likable tone. When I first heard version 2 it was almost too much taken off the bottom. I have a similar problem (not that I’m a good singer) trying to alleviate sounding too naturally muffled but hoping to not lose that tone, that vibration, that zone. I imagine your live version has a lot more bite and probably less polish, more adlib, more angst, but that’s the studio version in general, isn’t it?

Otherwise the second version is better for the rest of the sounds. I thought the bass and drums was great to begin with, but the update does seem to have more presence.

It is hard to fake that youthful angst when you’re no longer youthful. The lyrics seem too naive, the inclination to be wiser and more mature want to take over, to impart something or warn of the hazards or just be more cynical and real, but they are a means to remember how it really was.

Good job!

Thanks Andrew. I have a new version where I’ve cleaned up the lowest part off the kick and added just a bit more top and a bit more gain (I don’t like a kick with an obvious click like you hear in modern metal). I won’t post it yet because I changed a few other things as well and not quite happy about them. I thought the snare was a bit too much on the foreground in the previous mix (the one you just bashed), but I went too far in subduing it, so it needs another session.

Thanks for your analysis Steban. Yes, when I sing this live I’m not too involved in getting the literal lyrics across, more the emotion of the song. As you say I have to fake it to some extent. It’s like acting: get to feel the emotion I felt then and just sing. Works OK :heart_eyes:
Funny thing though, you talk of angst and Fredd talks of heart ache. I wrote the song when I had a steady relationship. There was nothing threatening it and yet the song somehow carries a feeling of heartache across. You won’t find it in the lyrics, but maybe I already knew deep down it wasn’t going to last, and that’s why it turned out like a heart ache song? You guys have got me thinking…