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


Crosseyed Miles Eternity reviewed by Roy Elkins

Crosseyed Miles Eternity reviewed by Roy Elkins.

Crosseyed Miles Roy Elkins Broadjam

Crosseyed Miles

Here are my thoughts on Eternity.

Simply put, I love this song and the production. The sound selection around your vocal tone is just perfect. And speaking of vocal tone, it is unique and great. Kudos to you and the producer. One of the best songs I have heard in a while. It is difficult to provide feedback as I am not sure I can add much. Here goes; Roy Elkins

Song begins with a perfectly tuned acoustic guitar. A very tasteful “swell” enters at 12 seconds. Good vocal on top of the acoustic in the first verse, band begins to enter tastefully at 38 seconds. Backing tracks make the vocal shine and build nicely to 1:18, then back to the verse with the ag pulled back in the mix until later in the verse. Build begins and the listener can feel the subtle energy in the song. Really nice production…….

The lyric would be a great piece of poetry on it’s own. Love the line, “Like helicopters fall in fall from the maple trees.” I live on a farm and my yard is filled with helicopters at the moment.

I had to dig and listen several times to give any constructive feedback. If it was my song, I may start it right at 12 seconds when the swell begins or bring the acoustic back in at the very end of the song to resolve it…. I am not sure the opening line is as strong as the rest of the song. In a song of this caliber, the opening line is extremely important, but I don’t feel it sets up the song as well as it could….Guitar lead enters at 2:52, possibly a little too up front in the mix….The bridge is a little weaker than the rest of the song, but still strong….One last thought. Although I love the vocal phrasing, I am not sure the rhythm of the vocal is ideal for the current pop market. Do the following – Listen to your song without the vocal track and tap the rhythm of the current vocal as you are listening. I am sure you will hear some conflict with the rhythm of the band. If you feel inclined, try and sing the vocal a little more rhythmically with the tracks and see what you come up with. This also might bring melodic hooks more to the forefront. For my taste, it’s perfect the way it is and it has already made it into my playlists. But my tastes are not at all in line with what’s on the radio.

With your permission, I am going to send this to a few other people.

Great work….It’s a great tribute to your wife. I bet she is thrilled with this.

Hope this helps.


Crosseyed Miles

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

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson’s I Remember My Father

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson‘s I Remember My Father Review By Roy Elkins.

This is song you are going to listen to and probably won’t sing along with it as the lyrics are so good you don’t want to be distracted. It’s a touching song sung from the perspective of a son reflecting on his father’s life as a deep sea fisherman. If you close your eyes, you will see it unfolding before you as the writer creates brilliant imagery in this song.  I love the tale and it is the perfect traditional folk song.  Congratulations! Roy Elkins

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson

I Remember My Father by Ingvi Thor Kormaksson

The first time through, I didn’t connect with the vocal and thought a different singer would do a better job.  I am not saying a better singer, just a different voice.  After listening several times through, I “believe” this singer and the story becomes more “convincing” each time I listen.

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson Roy Elkins Broadjam

Intro is really long and could be a piece of music unto itself. If it was my song, I would probably cut it.  Even though It is well played and nice to listen to, the lyric doesn’t start until 52 seconds. Because of this and the overall length, it probably wouldn’t get radio play. One other note about the length.  It is 5:13, which in today’s world is way too long. If it was my song, I would leave this as is and create another version without the intro which would bring the song to around 4:20. Then I might revisit verses 2, 3 & 4 and see if I could combine them into two verses instead of three.  I would also visit verses 5 & 6 and see if I could make one verse out of them. I worked on this a little at my desk and I think it’s doable without losing the story. Certainly the detail is compressed, but I think  you can do this and not lose the essence of the story.  If the writer decides to do this, I think he/she will have a better opportunity at placement in folk radio.

I mentioned this in a previous review that sometimes it is harder to mix two instruments than a full band. That may be the case here. Maybe a good mastering job is all this needs, but I don’t believe the sound is quite “broadcast” ready yet and needs more time behind the board. I would experiment with many different eq’ing and mixes on this as it will take the song to a much different place. Possibly some slight compression (usually not recommended) on the overall mix. The moment the producer finds the right mix & eq, it will be memorable.

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson Roy Elkins Broadjam

Ingvi Thor Kormaksson

In summary, I love the piece and would only modify the lyrics to create a shorter, more radio friendly version.  I recommend losing or significantly shortening the intro and spend some time experimenting with different eq’s and mixes. Ingvi Thor Kormaksson is a good songwriter.

Hope this helps.

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

Jamie Lynn Fletcher review by Roy Elkins

Jamie Lynn Fletcher Roy Elkins Broadjam

Jamie Lynn Fletcher

I’ll be honest, this review of Jamie Lynn Fletcher and her music is biased.  She is one of my favorite Wisconsin artists and is truly a talent to be reckoned with. If I was an A & R person at a label, she would be in our roster.  An incredible writer, arranger and performer who is in a league of her own.  Hope you enjoy this!  Roy Elkins.
Through the influence of my mother and her record collection, I grew up listening to a lot of great singers and songwriters. To this day, I find myself playing Hoagy and Gershwin a couple of times a week at the piano. But I am not sure one has to grow up on this type of music to connect with Jamie Lynn Fletcher and her songs. It helps, but her songs are so well written that the listener engages immediately. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the future, someone will be sitting at a piano playing her songs.
In songwriting circles, we talk about the lyric and the melody being “married” to each other. In this case, she has progressions, lyrics, melodies and a performance all standing at the altar together. She is clearly a veteran who has played hundreds, if not thousands of gigs and has perfected the delivery of her own songs. One is not born with this talent, this is an example of Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule at work.
Jamie Lynn Fletcher Roy Elkins Broadjam

Live Performance

Here are my thoughts on a few of the songs in her songlist, which can be found here:
The Fool – Just an awesome performance of an awesome song. Great vocal on this. Cons: Vocal is too hot on the mic. Distortion is present and any licensee would definitely ask to have it re-cut. In some ways the distortion adds an interesting quality to the song, but I do think it’s a showstopper.

Infatuation – Pros: Another strong vocal with great feel. Love it when the groove kicks in at 3:13. Cons:  Tough to place this kind in film & tv….Broadway producers would be a good target for this.

My Love For You – Pros: Good vibe, nice juxtaposition with the vocal and guitar.  A very visual song. You can watch the performers playing this while listening to it. Cons: Not really any serious problems with this track. There are some slight noises that could be edited out.

Proper You – Pros: Excellent lyric. Great marriage of lyric, melody and progression. Cons: Musically none…..slight noises in the tracks.

The eq’ing of the vocal is excellent and the mic choice was right on. Arrangements were as tasteful as I have heard in a long time. Her ability to “leave things out” is amazing.  I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell does he mean by that?”  These songs are so good, it would be so easy to add horns, strings, backup vocals, etc. and the writer/producer keeps them simple, sexy and clean. Great work.
Jamie Lynn Fletcher Roy Elkins Broadjam

At the piano

The only downside I see is that the vocal recording was a little hot on a couple of the songs and a few artifacts remain on the tracks throughout most of the songs. Sometimes you may want to leave things like a breath, vocal expression, etc., but noise in the process could easily be removed with an editor. If one is listening for enjoyment, these things don’t matter. However, when someone is considering the song for any type of broadcast, it needs to be free and clear of noisy artifacts. Anyone who listens to lots of music everyday will hear these immediately.

Although I have only included my notes on a few of the songs, her entire list is strong. If you are truly interested in supporting an artist that has worked extremely hard and perfected her craft, buy her songs.  You can do it here.

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

Bob Bentley – Love Is In The Things I Do, Review By Roy Elkins

Bob BentleyLove Is In The Things I Do, Review By Roy Elkins

Here is my follow up to Acceptance, which is now renamed Love Is In The Things I Do. I think it was a good idea to change the name of the song. It is now searchable and memorable. Thanks for the opportunity to hear your music.  Roy Elkins

Bob BentleyLove Is In The Things I Do

The song continues to get better with each version and this singer knocks it out of the park on this one. Near the end it even sounds a little “broadway” like to me, which I love. It opens up the possibilities for this song. She has a big voice and I love to hear more of her stuff.

One other note that I’m not sure I picked up on the first time through. Although I like the feel, it is a little “Halloween” like in the intro. Part of me says this really works, the other part has to think about it. Maybe that’s the magic of it. With that said, I wouldn’t change it unless it continues to hit walls.

Technical: There are clear points that the vocal is too hot and this needs to be addressed as it will prevent this version from making it to any broadcast format. This sounds to me as if the effect was to loud in the mix as the distortion kicks in slightly after the singer hits the note. I am not sure this is the case throughout, but if it is, this can be easily fixed in the mix. Some examples of this are at 1:22, 1:31-1:34, 2:20, 3:00 and many other more subtle places as well.
This is an incredible voice that is buried in reverb. The singer does a great job at pulling off the mic between 2:40 – 2:45, so it sounds like the effect was added after it was sent to you. If this is the case, then I would pull the verb back a lot or put a compressor in the vocal chain before the the signal hits to the verb. This won’t eliminate the amount of verb, but it will eliminate the distortion. If the track was sent with this verb, then it needs to be re-cut or re-sent without the effect.

Bob Bentley

Bob Bentley

Lastly, I still think the lyric is a little confused as I mentioned in the first review. If this was going on a record, there would be a re-write with the producer and/or artist…..or they would ask for a re-write from you….but you may not get that opportunity, so I would try and get it tweaked as soon as you can.

Summary: Metadata has not been added and needs to be. Vocal mix/verb needs tweaking. Lyrics need a re-write…..Feel is excellent and singer is great.

Love Is In The Things I Do

Hope this helps,

Roy Elkins


Original review.
Bob, Here are my thoughts on “Acceptance.”

I love the feeling of this song. This is clearly one of those songs that was written from a tough experience the writer faced. The feeling is well conveyed in the melody and the chord progression of the song. The singer has remarkable tone and with the right producer could really knock songs out of the park. If I was him, I would explore working with other producers as he sounds a little tentative at times, but has amazing tone.

In some songs the writer is creating from their heart and may never want to change it. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I have several songs that I won’t change as they have profound meaning to me. But I also understand they are not very marketable in the current form. I can’t speak for the writer, but that may be the case here. He/she may be just getting something off his/her chest and this song could be doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Only one person knows if it is.

A couple of technical issues that should be easy to address. Make sure all metadata (specific information such as subject matter, lyrics, mood, etc.) is filled out. This is critical on our site and all the others as well. If someone was searching for a “Lost love” ballad, it wouldn’t be found and it deserves to be.

Also, the title of the song is “Acceptance” and I am not sure the title and the hook are one in the same. Obviously, there have been numerous songs without synchronized titles and hooks. But we are in a new day of search and discover. If someone heard this song and wanted to look it up, they would never type the word Acceptance into the search engine. A better title might be, “Love Is In The Things I Do.”

No lyrics were listed either. This is also very important.

It sounds as if the lyrics just emotionally flowed out of the writer and there wasn’t much tweaking done after the first pass. This is not a bad thing, just my thought as I write this review. Here are some specifics: The first line sets up “her” and much of the song is about “I.” “You will never change, but I tried to be the best that I can be.” Maybe could be “I was hoping I could change, but I tried to be the best that I can be.” The first line is really a contradiction to the rest of the first verse. Why won’t she change? “Sad affairs” were slightly mentioned later in the song, but the first line has almost no literal meaning to the rest of the song, but I am sure it has heartfelt meaning to the writer. “You brushed aside the love we used to share. It’s not that I don’t care.” She was the one who brushed it aside. A more effectively lyric might be, “You brushed aside the love we used to share. It seems that you don’t care.” If the guilt is put on her, the listener will be much more empathetic to the singer. The song is much more effective if it is about “her” or “I”…..or skillfully goes back and forth between the two, which is very difficult. Try re-writing this lyric both ways with no music playing. Every line is about “her” or every line is about “I.” I think this will help evolve the lyric and you could draw from each to give the back and forth that could make this song extremely effective. With that said, the heartfelt message is conveyed through the emotion of the arrangement, just not as literally and efficiently as it could be.

At 2:55, the instrumental bridge arrives and the music sounds as if there is going to be a positive resolution, but there isn’t. Although I love the music and synth-string arrangement in the bridge, I don’t think it works in this song. Also, the strings cut out pretty abruptly at 3:24.

Overall, the song is good and has strong potential. If you can swing it, find a local producer who has worked on hundreds of songs and make a deal. Putting another set of ears on this will really help. I didn’t address the production, but it isn’t broadcast ready in the current form. A producer would also help on the mix and eq’ing of the instruments and getting it to a broadcast ready product.

If this was my song, this is what I would do: I wouldn’t change the music or feeling at all. It nails the message of the song. I would re-write this lyric over and over and over until perfect and married to the music. I would lose or change the bridge as I’m not sure it adds much. Also, it would shorten the song as well. It is too long for any airplay. I would input the metadata.

Hope this helps,

Roy Elkins

Founder, Broadjam, Great People Along The Way, Thoughts On The Music Industry

Additional links & good organizations

Madison Area Music Association, Willywash, Dallas Songwriters Association – one of the best in the business, Merlin Mentors – Great org that helps young entrepreneurs, Les Paul Foundation, Wisconsin Foundation for School Music

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