If At First You Don’t Succeed, Book More Studio Time

I knew as we were recording the lead vocals for the second time that it was much better than my first attempt. A few days later we edited the new vocals and I got to hear them. And I was relieved, very very happy and relieved that yes, they did sound very good. Well, very good for me. I wouldn’t say that I sound as good as Aretha Franklin or anything. Does anybody sound as good as Aretha Franklin?

Here’s a bit of Blackbirds with the initial vocal recording.


It’s ok, but it sounds kind of robotic to me. No color or life to the words, no story being told through the lyrics. No phrasing, and not a great blend with Dawn and Hilary. Competent but nothing more than that. And mere competence will never do, as my friends have already laid down tracks that are beautiful and tasteful.

Here’s the same excerpt after the vocal re-dos. I like it a lot more. The blend between Dawn and Hilary and me is way better, there’s phrasing and dynamics. Better color and personality in the voice. I hear the story more in this version.


Where I really hear the difference is on Every Single One. Here’s the barely passable first version. When I first recorded this, it felt like a really hard song to sing and I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to get through it. And now that’s how it sounds to me. Tense, cautious, and completely devoid of emotion.

Every Single One

And here’s the new version. Lots of bounce and rhythm, better blend with Hils and Dawn, better tuning, and way more life to the story. I think it sounds much more relaxed and dare I say, genuine.

Every Single One2

I’ve learned many things along the way during this recording process. One of the biggest lessons has been, take your time and make it good. At first I just wanted to get everything done as fast as possible and slap it up on the internet. I’m a very impatient person. Always wanting to get shit done and then move on to the next thing. I have a perpetual to-do list that I’m constantly adding stuff to.

And now I think, that really doesn’t make sense. Not with making a record, anyway. You need to step back and listen, lots of times, at every stage of the recording process. And very frequently what sounded fine initially sounds less fine after a few days and repeated listenings. I’m so grateful to the Mikes, Zobac and Southworth. They have repeatedly put the brakes on me and suggested re-dos, fixes, additions and subtractions. I respect those guys a lot so I’ve been gritting my teeth and following their advice. Gradually this EP is becoming something that exceeded my wildest hopes and expectations. So that’s another big lesson. Listen to people who have a different viewpoint and try some things they suggest for the purpose of making the project better. I mean, why not make it as good as we possibly can?

Now we mix! Who knows what wild and crazy suggestions will come about after a few days with the Mikes going over the songs with their enormous ears and impeccable taste?