"Precious Jewel" - Matt Young (ft: vocal by Holly)

Another song by my regular client Matt, this one, again featuring the voice of his young daughter Holly.
Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I’d be interested on any feedback on my production and mix etc… if you are willing and able! :slight_smile:

Precious Jewel

Piano - Alicia Keys
Drums - SSD4
Orchestra - GPO4


Sounds very good to me!
Really not much to say on the mix. Lead guitar could maybe come down a little.
I thought the speed increase halfway through was a bit artificial. Not sure what to suggest, but I’m sure there’s something to make it a bit more natural. I’m very bad at that myself, so I usually avoid it. :sunglasses:

I thought that was really, really, lovely. Beautiful voice, beautiful song. The ONLY think I disliked was the male backing vocals and would have preferred female vocals there instead… maybe get Holly to record them.

fantastic opening, when that voice comes in the world stops. I really liked the orchestral adds, advances the track nicely. mix seems great here. the background voice works perfect later in the song. it just sounded like the 1st 2 male voice backing parts appeared outta context. it could just be the surprise of it. she could do those 1st 2 background spots or, on repeated listens the way it is now will grow to fit.
:laughing: so there, I’m taking both sides of the fence.
glad the lead guitar didn’t try to shred, works good as a melodic add.
truly a great song

Hi Ian

I have to say you really do excel at arrangement and production of this type of song. Very good. :sunglasses:

Regarding the male vocals, I think the problem lies with the rhythmic feel of them. When he echo’s ‘Precious, precious’ he doesn’t do it with the same spiky feel of the ‘ious’ part. He is rather more square and smooth. That’s why they don’t quit fit IMVHO. The harmony parts work because he does mirror the lead vocal.

Again, in my opinion, the guitar solo is rather rigid and square sounding. Almost quantized. Is it possible to get that tracked again? If not possibly sliding it just off the beat might help and perhaps reducing the attack. Also I think it’s too loud in the context of the track. :open_mouth:

I’m not a lover of the singer but that is a personal preference. All in all very good.


One thing I forgot to mention is the octave up vocal at the end doesn’t do the singer much justice IMO. :wink:

Hi Dave, thanks for the feedback.
I agree with much of what you say, but you know what they say “The customer is always right” :wink:

I did however get agreement on one change - to the first appearance of the male (Matt) BV’s, - I pushed them way into the distance and made the flute the dominant part instead.

as opposed to:

You can’t get two more polarized opinions than that! :laughing:

I think Holly will sound really good when her voice becomes more ‘women’ and less ‘girl’. She’s only 13 or 14 so I guess that’s a few years away yet…


I kind of agree with Dave about the arrangement, which was fine. But I think the orchestration and scoring of the instruments in this song could be improved quite a lot (mainly the strings) and so that’s really nothing mixing and production skills can improve, but you know for Disney songs for example the composer just writes the song as a piano piece, then they hire in an orchestrator to then write it out properly for the orchestra, so you never expect a producer to take the job of the orchestrator, but I think orchestrators aren’t common to come across so I think you done a good job making it sound to the good standard it’s at. My ears aren’t that attuned to mixing/production yet really but I’ll try to comment on those things also.

I thought the mix was good overall, the balance between the piano and vocals was good. The thing that stood out was the quality of the recording on the vocals and clarity. But part of that is due to the fact that she has excellent enunciation, which I’ve found to be a pretty rare thing actually. The clarity of the pitches of the notes are also excellent, as are the legato transitions (particularly at 0:34.) It’s very, very rare that I’m impressed by someone’s voice.

The percussion could have been mixed a lot better, although could be mixing and mastering things to make it more defined. The strings I just feel weren’t very confidently written parts and that’s why they’re so quiet because they could build and be a lot more audible if written well for a full string section in more of an SATB choir kind of way.

Some of the lyrics I honestly thought were a little bit meh. But her voice takes a lot of focus because it’s very, very good. Only thing I think needs some improving is the vibrato technique.

I’ve played guitar for some years before I got into orchestra music, and the guitar solo firstly was using the wrong pickup, I know from experience playing this kind of stuff that it’d sound a lot better using the bridge pickup, although that’s dependent on the guitar and amplifier as to whether it’d sound sweet and singing or just harsh, but bridge is what to use for this style. The style of the guitar solo was right and sounded good but the performance I have to say wasn’t upto the proficiency it should be :stuck_out_tongue: Also the sustained notes should really have vibrato on them to make them really sing musically, just like a violin, flute, oboe etc would. Try to imagine a solo violinist or cello player not using any vibrato in a performance, that is how guitars without vibrato sound also, not good :stuck_out_tongue:

However I thought the acoustic guitar part fit in very well and was balanced very well.

The recording, mix, clarity and performance of the vocal track are what impressed me here. But a lot to improve in the compositional elements.

I think this Holly would be really suited to singing songs in the compositional style of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDGMU6sdVBE&feature=related and I think this is really how the strings etc should be scored for a song like this.

Since I got into music I always wanted to write these kinds of songs with strings like that. Looking forward to hearing any more songs you produce for this client.

Sorry for ranting a bit and I hope it’s constructive :stuck_out_tongue: But it’s pretty rare as I said that I’m impressed with someones singing voice. Thanks for posting it.

Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I’ve shared it with the writer and I’ve certainly read through it and taken your thoughts into consideration. With regard to your Youtube link, it may indeed be a worthy reference, a bit too ‘mando-pop’ (华语流行音乐) for my personal tastes, but perhaps relevant for the writer and his daughter Holly, the singer on this song.


I listened to this again, I remember an older song you posted with holly singing. I dare say shes getting better, maybe its a more confident vocal here. great arrangement for her, always like your piano lines.
lol, I hate to say pretty, but she has a pretty voice.

I think so too, she was very much “little girl” sounding on those earlier tunes. She’s has a vocal coach now… I’m sure that’s helping. :sunglasses:

I bet the vocal coaching is helping :stuck_out_tongue: Although I have nothing to compare it to. Constant practice is key. But still gotta disagree with the arrangement comment :stuck_out_tongue: The arrangement was fine and piano but the orchestration and composition of most of the other instruments need some work to match a voice like that ^^

I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking Johnathon here, but his critique isn’t very specific at all, just a general “it needs work.”

I thought the arrangement was just fine – it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Sure, it could perhaps use a flourish here and there in order to accent the tune and move it forward.

I love the girl’s voice, BTW – very affecting

My chief gripe is… wait for it… the snare. :laughing: Actually, the drums in general. The rest of the mix is nice and open, but when the drums come in they are quite focused, small, and dry sounding, especially the snare. I know this isn’t a power ballad! :sunglasses: Still, the drums need to be bigger, which doesn’t necessarily mean louder – just more open and “on stage” as it were. IMO

Other than that… superb job, Ian! I must say, you have come a long way, baby! IMO, you are now among the best, if not THE best, recordist/mixer/producer on this forum :sunglasses:

Thanks for your thoughts Doug. :slight_smile: You may be right about the drums but I guess as with any mix, sooner or later you gotta call it finished, otherwise you could go on mixing and tweaking forever!

I must say, you have come a long way, baby! IMO, you are now among the best, if not THE best, recordist/mixer/producer on this forum

Well, that’s rather generous and I’m not sure I’m at all worthy, particularly when you buggers insist on making me feel like a complete novice! :laughing: