Review by Roy Elkins
This is one of those reviews that I am going to struggle writing as I can find almost nothing to improve upon in this song. When a person has so much respect for the two songwriters who wrote it, it is hard to give them constructive input. Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone‘s Yellow King made my day and is why I started Broadjam – to get the opportunity to hear songs like this.
This is an instrumental that begins with an “outlaw surf” guitar sound reminiscent of Eddy, Orbison, etc. It is played so tastefully that I could have stopped the song at 25 seconds and been completely happy with it. Behind the incredible guitar tone, percussion filled the spaces. A ratchet-like sound, along with some other effects, were strategically placed to support the snare landing on 4 (if you count like I do.) Brilliant use of simple instrumentation to make a great piece of music. I don’t know if I have ever listened to an instrumental ballad that was produced to this level of quality.
The first guitar continues with a beautiful melody until approximately 47 seconds and then a classy flamenco guitar sound enters and tears it up. The feel of the performance and the tone of this guitar sound and performance is inspiring. As I am listening, many guitar gods are going through my head, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Mark Knopfler, Lee Ritenour, Joe Walsh, Jon McLaughlin, maybe a little Hendrix, etc. One can always tell when a player has put their 10,000 hours in…..because they know when NOT to play. The spaces between the notes in this piece are as strong as the notes that are played. If this is the same person playing both of these parts, I am blown away. This is some of the best and tasteful work I’ve have ever heard.
Ok, now on to the song. This could easily find a place in a film. When one closes their eyes and listens to this, the scenery just flies by in your head. Instrumentals need to invoke an emotion or vision to be good, this does both. This made my personal playlist immediately within one minute and will be heard by many of my friends.
It is so hard to find anything constructive to say when a piece is done this well. So I will preface my comments with, “don’t change a thing.” But I also know that writers of this caliber want that detailed input to make their next project better.
If this was my song, there are just a couple of things that I might consider tweaking (if I was totally bored and didn’t have anything else to do.) 1.) The bridge comes in around 1:32 and a backup up synth pad is behind it. (Sounds like an old M1.) Since the tone of the patch is similar to the frequency range of the guitar, I might play a couple inversions up on the keyboard, or an entire octave. 2.) At 2:13 when the song and melody return to the verse, the ratchet-like sound and guitar are slightly off each other – the first time through I thought it might be distortion. So in a re-mix, I would edit these to begin at same time and bring the percussion slightly down in the mix for that first hit. Again, I emphasize that I find myself digging to really find something that I would improve. I am not sure either of these suggestions would advance the song or it would just sound more appealing to my own ears.
Mike Gladstone & Donovan Tucker are both great songwriters on their own. Working together they have produced a home run and certainly captured my attention. Great work to both of these writers and I hope they continue working together.
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