Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone’s Yellow King

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone‘s Yellow King

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.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone Roy Elkins

Donovan Tucker

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.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone Roy Elkins

Mike Gladstone

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 GladstoneDonovan 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.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladston‘s Yellow King

Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational links Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms

Erwin de Ruiter’s Down By The Sea – by Roy Elkins

Down By The Sea by Erwin de Ruiter, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Review by Roy Elkins

Love the opening of this Erwin de Ruiter Folk Pop song, sounds a little eastern European in herea as well. Love the Folk strings and kick drum intro. Vocalist enters at 11 seconds and is fantastic. A little reminiscent of John Denver. It opens with the hook, “Down By The Sea.” I love the line, “These calm waves soothe my burning soul.” Very thought provoking and melody works well with the lyric.

Choruses and verses are engaging and strong. This is an interesting song as I think the verses and choruses are almost interchangeable. With slight production tweaks, they could easily reverse roles. This means the writer probably has a couple of different hooks working at the same time.

Down By The Sea by Erwin de Ruiter Review by Roy Elkins

Down By The Sea by Erwin de Ruiter

Generally, when a singer sings harmonies over or under their lead vocal, it doesn’t do much for me. Even when it’s technically accurate, most of the time it doesn’t work. In Down By The Sea, the singer pulled it off. In this case, the producer and engineer really did a great job. I understand that this is probably a personal taste comment and others may not hear it the same way.

If it was my song, this is what I would experiment with:

The words “washed him ashore” in the second verse seem forced into a space they don’t really fit. I think the vocalist could re-phrase this and make it work a little better.

Build the bridge a little more. The melody and instrumentation of the bridge is such that maybe the first line is a capella, and then another voice and instrument in the second line and so on. That’s where I thought it was going as soon as it began, but it really didn’t build like I expected it too.

I wish I would have played in this session as it sounds like the performers had a blast doing this song. It really comes through in the mix. Great instrumentation and performances.

Great work! I love this piece and thanks for giving me the opportunity to review it. Down By The Sea by Erwin de Ruiter

Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational links Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms


JD Dohnal – Beatles Without John review by Roy Elkins

JD Dohnal – Beatles without John review by Roy Elkins

If you are a Beatles fan and like country or folk music, there is no better song for you. This song composed by JD Dohnal is one of the best ever posted on Broadjam. Here are my thoughts on this song crafted by an incredibly gifted songwriter. Roy Elkins

Beatles without John Written by JD Dohnal

Review by Roy Elkins


I listen to an average of 30 – 40 songs a day and every once in a while I hear something that I say, “Damn, I wish I would have written that.” This is one of

JD Dohnal Roy Elkins Broadjam

JD Dohnal

those songs. It is brilliantly crafted and I am really curious as to how long it took him to write and complete. My guess is there were many, many iterations of this and lots of trial and error.

The lead character in this story is traveling south and listening to the radio when an all Beatles show comes on the radio. The singer has recently broken up with his significant other and the writer is weaving Beatle titles into his thoughts about the break-up. Generally, when I hear a song like this that encompasses lyrics and/or elements from previous band or event, it is usually tasteless and gimmicky…..and being a Beatles freak, I figured this is just going to be another one of those. I have learned not to have pre-conceived ideas as JD Dohnal nailed it with this song.

The lyric is poignant, the delivery is docile and the supporting chords are sad, but somehow there is still a glimpse of “feel good” as I listen. Although he uses many Beatles titles, they all could be just “regular” lyrics if they weren’t affiliated with the most famous band in history.

A very tasteful production, simple melody, nice movin’ groove with no real bells and whistles. The producer did this justice. It could have been very easy to take this over the top and add Beatle-like sounds, but they let the lyric shine and the instrumentation is in a supportive role….right where it should be.

Although JD Dohnal has written many good songs and I have listened to many of them, this is one of those that define a writer, like Yesterday for McCartney, Imagine for Lennon and Something for Harrison. He may never write a song better than this and many others may never write a song as good as this either.

Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational links Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms


Deep Down Damned by Christie Leigh Review Roy Elkins

Deep Down Damned by Christie Leigh  Review by Roy Elkins

Christie Leigh is a very good singer, her tone is unique, pitch is excellent and her delivery is good. I first heard her several years ago as I believe a manager friend of mine handed me a recording of hers. I was as impressed then as I am now. She hits the word “away” a couple of times in this song, Deep Down Damned, and it really makes the song soar. Lots of good moments in this piece. Great work!

Deep Down Damned by Christie Leigh  Review by Roy Elkins

Christie Leigh Roy Elkins Broadjam

Deep Down Damned by Christie Leigh

This song grew on me and the ¾ time signature was a good choice. As I listened, I was wondering if it was written in a different time signature and later changed. It felt as if it may have been changed after the initial writing…..The first time I listened to the song, I struggled with it and wasn’t sure what I didn’t like about it. After I wrote the initial review of Deep Down Damned, I found myself hearing the hook in my head all day. I have gotten in the habit of writing reviews and waiting a day or so before posting as my opinion sometimes changes after I write down my thoughts. I am glad I waited as it definitely happened with this song. This is a good hook and performed very well.

Lyrics: The opening line is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time, “Your teeth in my side and my hands in your hair.” Opening lines are supposed to set the tone. It sure does in this song…..I’m not sure I would change the lyric much, but if this was my song, I might tweak the lyrics a little. Let me explain. The first verse does a great job implying that the song is going in a “suggestive” direction, then the chorus implies that she’s not giving him away. These are two different concepts. And I say this with a little bit of caution as I don’t want the writer to think that I believe she is way off the mark. I just think that there could be a slight disconnect between the verse and the chorus. If it was my song, I would tweak a word or two in the verses to suggest she might be afraid he will get away. This will set-up the chorus a little better with more support from the verses.

From a production perspective, I do like the arrangement and production as it is well done. I love thick and rich productions and the producer on this nails it. With that said, I would like to hear a more traditional country version of this as her voice and the lyric are perfect for the genre.

I have listened to Christie Leigh’s entire list on  For her, it’s not a matter of “what she knows,” it’s a matter of knowing the right people. Her day is coming.

Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational links Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms

Toby Tune’s song Gotcha Gotcha Review by Roy Elkins Broadjam

Toby Tune‘s song Gotcha Gotcha reviewed by Roy Elkins

This is an interesting piece with many moving parts to it. And because of so many moving parts, I have lots of moving opinions. Although I have listened to Toby’s music for about 10 years and like just about everything he does, I didn’t connect with this the first time through. But after listening numerous times, it has begun to grow on me and I am starting to get into it.  Many of the parts that initially turned me off, but I am beginning to like more and more with each listen. Roy Elkins

Toby Tune‘s Gotcha Gotcha

It starts off with an acoustic guitar (ag) loop and the snare landing on 2 & 4, a pan flute sits on top for an added effect. The opening ag sounding sample drives the feeling of this track. Numerous sounds make their appearance throughout the piece.  One of my favorites comes in at :48 seconds, this is a female vocal sample with a slight bend on it. A break at 1:30, drums cut out and the oboe like sound takes the lead.  This part is very tasteful. Very nice part at 2:05, nice vocal part works well with the oboe. In the 2:30s, this song begins to cook.  This is the heart of the song.

If this was my song, here are the things I might re-visit: At 1:06 to 1:13, the female vocal sample could be played a little better to give it a more realistic performance. At 1:30, let these two bars evolve a little longer. It almost sounds out of context, but it is a strong groove and would love to hear it more in the song. At 1:59, it sounds like a crack was played or there is slight distortion on the low end.  It could an errant mix of one note as well. The Pan Flute sample that I mentioned up front is bending a lot of notes throughout the song. At times, it’s a little uncomfortable and distracting. I might try mixing this lower, removing it altogether or playing samples that are not pitch-bent. The dynamics of this is struggling to shine through.  While there are instrumental peaks and valleys, it seems as if the mix is ignoring them. The mix could reflect and possibly mirror the dynamics of the instruments a little better. I would spend a bit more time experimenting with this. If this was mastered, I believe it would go to a whole new level.

Toby Tune Roy Elkins Broadjam

Toby Tune

One other thought that doesn’t necessarily apply here, but it was going through my head as I was listening so I thought I would talk about it. Sometimes when using a sample of a guitar chord and the triggering note simply changes the pitch of the whole chord, it can be an sub-conscious “flag” to the ear.  For example; If I was playing a D chord on the guitar and the next chord was E, the note configurations would be D(X-A-D-A-D-F#) and the E(E-B-E-G#-B-E). So if a loop is a sample of the same D chord strummed on a guitar and is triggered by an E note, the E Chord is now (X-B-E-B-E-G#.) It can diminish the “color” of the song. Now these are not the chords in question here, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I think if my goal was to get consistency in the strumming, then I would probably sample all of the chords used in the song and assign the triggers prior to recording.

Toby’s entire list is here.  He is very prolific and I am sure you will find something you like.

Toby Tune‘s song Gotcha Gotcha


Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational linksHangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms