Gentlemen Songsters Studio Diary: Session 5

27 Feb Not far from us, Bruce Springsteen is bellowing his way through a concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Tonight we’re putting vocals on the 7 or 8 tracks that remain to be done on Tyrone and Lesley’s Gentlemen Songsters. This involves singing. Sometimes sitting, sometimes standing. Starting roundabout 9pm we do a maximum of three takes per song. I’m in the spotlight, isolated, with one earphone off and one on,  listening to both the backing track and the sound of my voice in the room.

Having rehearsed most of the songs I know roughly what I’m aiming for: a cogent, tuneful rendition of the lyrics and melody, with some kind of engaging texture or character to it. I want there to be a feeling that the singer and the song are one, yet it can’t be too internalised. I want to ‘put the song over’ but don’t want to over-do it & go all show-biz.

It’s quite an art and I’m in awe of anyone that can do it well.  Here I’m recording the intro to a song called ‘Ukulele in your Pocket’. We’ll glue it to the front of the song when we mix it. Recording’s not a very interesting process to watch.

Certain elements of the performance persona I’ve developed serve to amplify the material live,  but tend to dissipate it as music-alone.  I think the mask and how it’s framed work onstage,  but not in front of the mic.

The chaps in the control room are listening carefully – you can kind of hear them listening. There’s a focus to the work, because there’s a lot to be completed,  and we don’t have much time.

They seem to think it sounds good, so that’ll do me. How good can it get? No-one’s ever sung these songs in a studio before, so therefore these are the most definitive versions. So far.

We communicate via audio – occasionally the door’ll open and we’ll work out a twist of melody, or confirm a timing. Then it’ll close again. Mostly the lights are dimmed. It’s interesting what you hear in isolation. At one stage Tom says: “…oh no,  the keyboard fell into my beans”

The tracks are sitting fine without too much instrumental adornment: now comes mixing and fixing.

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