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janeray1940
03-22-2015, 01:38 PM
Hi all - this is a link to a couple of songs by a friend of mine, who is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who composes primarily on ukulele. Both feature ukulele but aren't strictly "ukulele songs."

He asked me to share these anonymously and is hoping to get some feedback - so please, take a listen and let me know what you think! Thanks so much.

https://soundcloud.com/janeray-1/sets/two-songs/s-8x2nT

(Those of you who know me in real life probably know who this is. Please respect the request for anonymity - thanks!)

Booli
03-22-2015, 02:36 PM
Wow! These are great!

At first, I though that his singing voice has a very broadway stage-presence, and then he kind of reminds me of John Pizzarelli (son of Bucky Pizzarelli), but the melody, chord changes and production values reminds me VERY strongly of The Beatles, like something from or inspired by the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album. I can totally hear Paul McCartney singing this song.

The second song also sound very Beatles-like. The legato cello compliments the ukulele playing very nicely (love that combo - as seen e.g., Anne Janelle and James Hill - they're married now).

Listening on my pro-level Yamaha HS-5 studio monitor speakers, the trumpet or trombone parts in the second song seem to sit too high in the mix after the bridge of the song, and as such they compete with the vocal and kind of drown it out.

I would definitely love to hear more of this artist - if you want to keep it private - maybe later you could tell me (via PM) if he has a CD to buy or is on iTunes or something.

Also, I wanted to mention that his voice has a certain specific 'quality' that reminds me of some of the voices on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, in that his very articulate both in his pitch accuracy, and his diction, but nicely also has a sort of default 'happy' to it, as if he's smiling the whole time while singing.

If find it very refreshing to listen to this music.:)

--
Links for John Pizzarelli videos (just in case you are not familiar)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVNVJGLVFCk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfAw2TxiIjw

Dan Uke
03-22-2015, 02:51 PM
Very Beatles like. Hopefully he has some ukulele instrumentals as well.

janeray1940
03-22-2015, 03:00 PM
Wow! These are great!

At first, I though that his singing voice has a very broadway stage-presence, and then he kind of reminds me of John Pizzarelli (son of Bucky Pizzarelli), but the melody, chord changes and production values reminds me VERY strongly of The Beatles, like something from or inspired by the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album. I can totally hear Paul McCartney singing this song.

The second song also sound very Beatles-like. The legato cello compliments the ukulele playing very nicely (love that combo - as seen e.g., Anne Janelle and James Hill - they're married now).

Listening on my pro-level Yamaha HS-5 studio monitor speakers, the trumpet or trombone parts in the second song seem to sit too high in the mix after the bridge of the song, and as such they compete with the vocal and kind of drown it out.

I would definitely love to hear more of this artist - if you want to keep it private - maybe later you could tell me (via PM) if he has a CD to buy or is on iTunes or something.

Also, I wanted to mention that his voice has a certain specific 'quality' that reminds me of some of the voices on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, in that his very articulate both in his pitch accuracy, and his diction, but nicely also has a sort of default 'happy' to it, as if he's smiling the whole time while singing.

If find it very refreshing to listen to this music.:)

--
Links for John Pizzarelli videos (just in case you are not familiar)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVNVJGLVFCk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfAw2TxiIjw

Booli, thanks so much for the thoughtful and insightful comments! You are correct, definitely a strong Beatles influence. I'll pass your comments along.

As of now, no CD and not on iTunes, but as soon as that changes I'll update here. A website is in the works as well.

And thanks for the links - I was familiar with Bucky but not John. I like his voice!


Very Beatles like. Hopefully he has some ukulele instrumentals as well.

Thanks Daniel... I don't think there are plans for any instrumentals this time around but you never know! There is a separate instrumental project in the works but no recordings yet.

ksiegel
03-22-2015, 03:02 PM
Well, it didn't sound like John Pizzarelli to me... but I really liked what I heard! (The second time around, I was thinking Jeff Tweedy-ish...)

Next Stop Willoughby sounded a lot like something Steve Goodman could have done, while
Over the Falls In A Barrel had a John Prine kind of secret smile to it - yet both songs were quite melancholy, without being maudlin.

My only issue with both was the brass was too loud - a little more of an understatement, and it would have had a great effect, without overpowering the lyrics, which it happened to do. The first time the train sounds hit during "Willoughby", I thought it was noise on-line, then it became evident what I was hearing. I knew what to expect the second time. If the sound quality was better, I would have known it was a train immediately.

I will be listening to these songs many more times - they are really very, very good! - and look forward to more music from your friend, and some higher fidelity recordings.



-Kurt

janeray1940
03-22-2015, 03:15 PM
Well, it didn't sound like John Pizzarelli to me... but I really liked what I heard! (The second time around, I was thinking Jeff Tweedy-ish...)

Next Stop Willoughby sounded a lot like something Steve Goodman could have done, while
Over the Falls In A Barrel had a John Prine kind of secret smile to it - yet both songs were quite melancholy, without being maudlin.

My only issue with both was the brass was too loud - a little more of an understatement, and it would have had a great effect, without overpowering the lyrics, which it happened to do. The first time the train sounds hit during "Willoughby", I thought it was noise on-line, then it became evident what I was hearing. I knew what to expect the second time. If the sound quality was better, I would have known it was a train immediately.

I will be listening to these songs many more times - they are really very, very good! - and look forward to more music from your friend, and some higher fidelity recordings.


-Kurt


Thanks Kurt, really appreciate it. Based on your comments, you "get" it. This is exactly the kind of thing we're trying to determine - if there's an audience for this sort of material. So far it's looking as if there is!

As for audio quality - pretty sure these are small files compressed for email and not the final product. In my experience they sound really different on different devices (and different quality devices) - not sure if the actual masters would have the same issues but I'll pass those observations on as well. (Ummm... when it's digitally recorded are they even called masters??)

Lori
03-22-2015, 07:02 PM
I enjoyed both songs. I played them twice, which is really saying something. I usually get bored pretty quickly, and will stop a video or audio about 20 seconds in if I don't like it. The George Martin inspired production was very appropriate to the old-timey vibe. The lyrics were breezy and transporting. In Willoughby there are shifts in "room tone" that might be emphasized a bit more. The horns sounded pretty balanced on my (not very expensive) computer speakers, but might do well to come down a hair under the vocal. The production, and the vocal style seem very much like a Broadway Show. Are these songs part of a musical?

–Lori

bonesoup
03-23-2015, 01:06 AM
Good picking, really good vocals, really really good arrangements.

janeray1940
03-23-2015, 05:09 AM
I enjoyed both songs. I played them twice, which is really saying something. I usually get bored pretty quickly, and will stop a video or audio about 20 seconds in if I don't like it. The George Martin inspired production was very appropriate to the old-timey vibe. The lyrics were breezy and transporting. In Willoughby there are shifts in "room tone" that might be emphasized a bit more. The horns sounded pretty balanced on my (not very expensive) computer speakers, but might do well to come down a hair under the vocal. The production, and the vocal style seem very much like a Broadway Show. Are these songs part of a musical?

–Lori

Thanks Lori - no, not part of a musical, just a couple selections from a collection of songs. I'm the same way - rarely do I get through a "hey, listen to this!" song the whole way the first time, so listening to something more than once is really saying something :)


Good picking, really good vocals, really really good arrangements.

Thanks bonesoup!

Dan Uke
03-23-2015, 06:09 AM
Some of the comments reminds me of a time when I had a chat with my friend, who's a technical supervisor for many live TV events and when he was younger also thought about being a sound engineer in the recording industry. I asked him why lots of vocals on CDs are too soft relative to the music...at least that's my opinion. He told me the main difference between TV and CDs are that TV producers want the lead vocal to really stick out since it's a performance while sounds engineers for CDs want it to blend in and hear all the instruments.

janeray1940
03-23-2015, 06:40 AM
Some of the comments reminds me of a time when I had a chat with my friend, who's a technical supervisor for many live TV events and when he was younger also thought about being a sound engineer in the recording industry. I asked him why lots of vocals on CDs are too soft relative to the music...at least that's my opinion. He told me the main difference between TV and CDs are that TV producers want the lead vocal to really stick out since it's a performance while sounds engineers for CDs want it to blend in and hear all the instruments.

Interesting observation - I had never thought of it, but I do know that a good part of the time when someone tells me I should check out such-and-such song on contemporary CDs, when I listen to the track I have a VERY hard time understanding the lyrics. I never really feel that the vocals are too soft, I just can't make out all of the words.

janeray1940
03-24-2015, 08:19 AM
Loved the horns, arrangement, and progression of Willoughby! I would have enjoyed more vocal harmony.

Thanks Jagadeesh! There might be a few more on the way that feature more vocal harmony. Stay tuned :)

janeray1940
03-28-2015, 10:11 AM
Just wanted to say thanks again to everyone who offered their thoughts. I'm going to leave these up for a couple more days, then plan to post two more songs sometime next week.

Also - I'm curious to know if anybody got the "Willoughby" reference? :)

Steveperrywriter
03-28-2015, 11:00 AM
I like Booli's comments. I enjoyed both songs, got a Beatle-esque feeling, and certainly your friend has both talent and skill.

I also heard two songs for a Broadway musical ...

So the musical will be set in the Great Depression, circa the early 1930's, and the book will feature a young songwriter, Thomas, trying to break into Tin Pan Alley, but not having any luck. He's a great musician, but not that great a lyricist. The music industry is suffering, people aren't going to live shows -- it's much cheaper to stay home and listen to a photograph record, and our young composer works hard but every time he gets a break, something happens to kill it.

In the cheap residential hotel where he lives, he meets another young man, Richard, an actor and singer who is likewise not rising to where he wants to be, and a young woman, Mary, who is a writer, but who isn't having any luck, either.

The trio start to spend their evenings together, they write a pop song, Tom, the music, Mary, the lyrics, and Dick sings it. It's good enough for the unscrupulous villain, an aging, once-popular songwriter, to steal and claim as his own.

After more roadblocks, eventually, talent outs, somebody recognizes their abilities, and they become successful the arts, but not so much in love. Depending on your preferences, either both guys want the girl, and she choses one over the other, or, better, somebody else altogether; or, Mary and Tom both fancy Dick, who swings both ways; or they have a three-way Jules & Jim relationship that doesn't end well and they all go their separate ways ..

Call it ... "New York City Serenade ..."

janeray1940
03-28-2015, 02:53 PM
I like Booli's comments. I enjoyed both songs, got a Beatle-esque feeling, and certainly your friend has both talent and skill.

I also heard two songs for a Broadway musical ...

So the musical will be set in the Great Depression, circa the early 1930's, and the book will feature a young songwriter, Thomas, trying to break into Tin Pan Alley, but not having any luck. He's a great musician, but not that great a lyricist. The music industry is suffering, people aren't going to live shows -- it's much cheaper to stay home and listen to a photograph record, and our young composer works hard but every time he gets a break, something happens to kill it.

In the cheap residential hotel where he lives, he meets another young man, Richard, an actor and singer who is likewise not rising to where he wants to be, and a young woman, Mary, who is a writer, but who isn't having any luck, either.

The trio start to spend their evenings together, they write a pop song, Tom, the music, Mary, the lyrics, and Dick sings it. It's good enough for the unscrupulous villain, an aging, once-popular songwriter, to steal and claim as his own.

After more roadblocks, eventually, talent outs, somebody recognizes their abilities, and they become successful the arts, but not so much in love. Depending on your preferences, either both guys want the girl, and she choses one over the other, or, better, somebody else altogether; or, Mary and Tom both fancy Dick, who swings both ways; or they have a three-way Jules & Jim relationship that doesn't end well and they all go their separate ways ..

Call it ... "New York City Serenade ..."

Really enjoyed your story, thanks Steve. The part about the music industry suffering kinda gives some perspective to our current "it's cheaper to download it for free from BitTorrent" situation - gives me some hope, in a weird way. I hope there will always be music fans who are willing to pay for something good.

itsme
03-28-2015, 04:35 PM
Also - I'm curious to know if anybody got the "Willoughby" reference? :)
I did. It was from a Twilight Zone episode.

janeray1940
03-28-2015, 05:25 PM
I did. It was from a Twilight Zone episode.

Ding ding ding we have a winner! Thanks for letting me know :)

itsme
03-28-2015, 05:44 PM
Ding ding ding we have a winner! Thanks for letting me know :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Stop_at_Willoughby

Ukulele JJ
04-02-2015, 11:42 AM
Thread closed per original poster's request.