Here’s a project I’ve been working on recently. It’s a song called “Listen To The Rain” that my buddy and I are redoing after some 30 years. The mix is still rough, the vocal is a placeholder and I’ll probably redo the bass - but I’m really trying to solidify the arrangement right now. Any feedback is much appreciated - especially on the arrangement.
BTW, if the lead guitar style sounds somewhat familiar, I am honored that Bob (@StylesBitchley ) played the solo and a couple of the other guitar tracks. (Thanks again Bob!)
For reference, here is the original from a practice cassette I’ve kept over the years.
Ooh this was a great listen! What a cool song…
and it just got better and better! Just love the Styles’ touches, that solo is gorgeous and his guitaring fits in with the song so nicely from the solo along through and to the end in a very satisfying way!
O yes… just listening again while I type and it has that YUM vibe for sure… really keen to hear more up front vox with a gritty vibe to match the singing guitar (and you will have fun mixing that… I love guitar/vox dueting but find it a challenge to mix up as the frequencies dance around each other ).
So it’s tricky to bash other than say it is sounding great… O I did find the guitar popping in at 1:00 felt a little too dominant but that may be irrelevant at this stage of the mix. I can always imagine layering of backing vox as the song builds but that is my thing and with the right vox take and that scrummy guitar it may well be unnecessary.
I like what you have here MIke, it’s a great tune and well played and recorded to my ear. I think the vocal fits well overall, you might be able to give it more of an edge for added appeal. Guitars are great and appropriate. Drums don’t vary much through the song, could do more with that, and at the intro they kind of sound like they are in a different space but that could be just me. Good job!
@emma - Thanks for the listen and kind words! Bob definitely added a whole new dimension to this song. 30 years ago we were a 3-piece. Now it’s like we added a lead guitar player to the mix - and a really GOOD one too!
This will definitely be a challenge!
@ingolee - Thanks for the compliments! I’m not sure I was very clear in the original post, but it’s not me singing. I’m trying to really pin down the arrangement so we can get the final tracks down.
As for the drums, the drummer was the first part of the collaboration. I asked him to stick pretty close to the original tune and minimize fills and whatnot, and I think he did that really well. I wanted a good and solid foundation to build off of. But you’re right , I do need to mix them better.
That’s great to hear! It does feel like it’s getting close.
While I definitely see your point, I’m afraid it won’t happen. I know as mixers we’re supposed to stay objective and not get attached to parts, serve the song, yadda yadda yadda… But I have gotten way too attached to that section.
I’ll try and explain. Bob came up with a part under the 2nd verse that is kind of an answer-back to the vocal, and which I absolutely love. I really wanted to use it again, so I brought it back here. I also wanted to bring back the main guitar melody again. Now Bob’s part kind of does an answer-back with the main guitar melody and leads into the final chorus. I see this section as kind of a “breather” after the intense bridge/solo and before the final chorus/outro.
PS. I also had to keep Bob’s solo guitar in that section because the run he does at 3:08 is just too freakin’ gorgeous!
Ok, fair enough, it was just the first bit in the song that struck me as “treading water” without any real purpose. Remember, the “breather” is relative to the part that came before it, so when the intensity bar has been set really high, even a slight cooling out is perceived as a “breather”. Bringing the vibe too far down can be counter-productive to the flow of the song.
That’s cool. However, maybe you could actually accomplish both goals without dropping the energy too far, while still creating a nice “segue” into the lower level energy of the chorus.
I had a bit of a play around with the file and did some quick and dirty edits to halve the length of both the part before the second verse and the part before the last chorus. It’s a bit clumsy working only with the 2 track stereo file, but it could be made to work really smoothly on the multitracks:
It also gave me time to listen to the song in more detail, and I noticed some parts that are only used once, but could be re-used to enrich the contour and build of the arrangement…Some more suggestions based on those parts:
(the time stamp referenced is from your posted mix, BTW)
The jangly electric part that starts around 11 secs could be used to build the second verse, or alternatively, a similar sounding part could be used to build the second chorus. (I really like the jangly chorus guitar in the first chorus
The stereo acoustic finger-picked guitars are only in the first verse, then are no longer heard. They sounded really sweet - Again, they could be used to build the width of the arrangement later on in the song - maybe bringing them in during the second half of the second verse.
You could even try using the melodic figure in between the first chorus and second verse under the vocal in the second verse… a bit of a long shot maybe, but worth a try, I reckon.
…Just a few ideas - I like to get maximum mileage out of any kind of hook/melodic figure. Repetition, when used judiciously in both a subtractive and additive manner, can really make the psychology of familiarity vs “the new” work in your favour. Experimentation is the key…
The arrangement worked for me until about 1:38. The melody going from the verse to the chorus there goes from tension to resolution, but the arrangement becomes kind of sparse and off-kilter. I think it could use some rhythm guitar, maybe some pads. Something to make it sound bigger/thicker than the previous section. I expect the energy to go up.
One more nit-pick as I listen through a second time. At 1:24 you say, “I don’t listen to the reason,” except you emphasize the “son” part of “reason,” which is unnatural. I prioritize avoiding this kind of thing, and just took a short online class where the teacher also says to avoid this, for reasons of “flow.” One thing you could do is lengthen the “rea” part a bit so that it’s a quarter note in stead of an eighth note (if I have that right,) and that way you can place fairly equal emphasis on that first syllable. It sounds better in my head anyway.
Also I would pay particular attention to nailing the timing/groove in the final version. Right now I think that’s the biggest issue I have with this version.
But yeah, cool song! I like the guitar work. I just finished a rough draft of a song I’m working on so I know how it goes. I ask my wife to listen to it and say, “now look, the vocal is very rough, and it’s all going to be re-recorded, but just… do you think it will be good?”
@ColdRoomStudio - Andrew, you certainly make some very compelling arguments, and thanks for demonstrating with your edits. I’m going to try listening to your version in the background later today in a more “disconnected” state of mind and see how it sits.
This is a great quote! I’ll definitely go through all of your suggestions next time I sit down with this mix.
@Cristina - Great insights and just what I was looking for. You also hit on a couple of the same notes I sent to my buddy (the singer) too. My goal is to get a good solid foundation for him to listen to when he sings his vocal tracks.
Yes! This is one of my primary concerns and exactly why I mentioned I would probably “redo the bass and solidify things”. It is so much easier and more satisfying to play with a real drummer at the same time.
In addition to the original line, I sat down to record a “low” bass part to fill things out. During that session I was playing around with delays and kind of liked how, when playing with a 1/4 note delay, it created a kind of “ebb and flow” - as Andrew pointed out. For the bridge part, I added a dotted 1/8th delay to give it some drive. But unless I’m right on with the part though, it makes things pretty sloppy. I’m also pondering a different low part. We’ll see where that goes.
This is great - you guys/gals are awesome and this is just what I needed to get a re-fresh on my perspective. Thanks a ton!
When I first saw this come up, I was tempted to chirp, but now I am glad that others gave you some great feedback. I hate to say anything, but that intro guitar sounds a little out of tune??
Your vocal is sweet. The break guitar is spot on and perfect for that stretch. Love the “listen to the rain” Great lead break at two ish. Might be a little long. Can’t hear your vox the best at the end. Now that is as picky as I can do. Good job
Thanks for the compliments on the guitar, and the song is coming along nicely. We briefly talked about this, and I can’t believe I’m telling you to cut me out, but in the out ro and a couple of spots leading up to it, I think the song would benefit from muting the lead guitar track to keep it from fighting the vocal, and also the guitar figure that you have throughout the song. If you need specific times, PM me and I’ll help, but there are a couple of spots where you took the lead track down a bit where it should be muted, and one spot near the end where your guitar figure should take precedence over what I played. If I was producing this (Which I’m Not!) I would go for a more call and response relationship between the main vox and the lead guitar at the end. This could be done by muting my part where the vox should be the hook, and letting me answer the vox on the next phrase.
Sadly, this would reduce my part a little, happily, it would make your great song sound better. Just a suggestion, but again, thanks for the opportunity to play on a nice track!
Thanks for chiming in Bob. I was going to message you offline and get your feedback, and I still will when I have some time to sit down with the mix again, clean things up and officially lay out the tracks. But I’ll definitely shoot you a version before the next try.
One thing I was trying to do was push the lead part to the background and vice versa to give the “spotlight” to one particular element at a time, but maybe muting is the way to go. I’ll experiment more when I really get down mixing this. This mix was kind of the “sift through all the parts and see what we’ve got version”, and I realize is definitely needs refinement. Thanks again for the excellent tracks!
Just wanted to add that was some fine guitar playing. I can’t play one tenth that good. ha ha
I would leave ALL of the guitar parts there except tuck them slightly to hear the vocal. I know that is not an easy thing. Anxious to hear round two of this track.
I had a guy once send me a slide guitar part (from England) that was entirely awesome. I added to my song and it really spiced it up especially at the break. It spilled over into the last verse, but was way too overpowering. I toned it back to hear the lyrics. He was very upset with me. ha ha I was just gonna post that song with the before and after
It’s good pop lyrics, miked, delivered with plenty of angst. The melody is catchy, not too complicated but arranged very tightly with just enough ever increasing tension. The original recording was not great, however it did convey the loveliness of the song idea. The new version is already super cool, so you decide if you want to change something.
Hey thanks Steve! It’s been fun to dust off these old songs (and friendships!) and give them some new life. And with the technology these days - to be able to bring in a musician of Bob’s caliber adds a whole new level to what can be done.