Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We Are Listening. Org Song Assessment

I entered a song contest and requested a critique from an contest and evaluation site called wearelistening.org.  I wasn't really sure how reputable they were, but I sent them some money to enter their contest and receive an evaluation.  I was mostly interested in the evaluation, because I've never had a "professional" review any songs I've done.
At the end of this post you will find my full evaluation from Kristin Cifelli.  She is part of wearelistening.org's Artist Development team, but also a singer song writer out of Boston.  If you are curious about what to expect from a wearelistening.org review, then you can read mine below.
Ultimately, I would have to say that I am pleased with the content and depth of the review.  I believe that Kristin Cifelli provided me with several valuable insights.  I appreciated her notes on lyric structure, mixing, vocal contrast, and vocal tune.
I received few notes on mix and layering of the instruments.  There are a number of places where I opted not to include a bass line.  There was no comments on that.  There was no comment on aspects of harmony or instrument choices.
Particular attention was given to the lyrics, which, ironically, I happened to give the least attention.  There were several lyrics Kristin liked, and several in which she thought I could elaborate on.  I wonder if she focused on the lyric aspect of the song more than the others because she is herself a singer/songwriter.  Listening to clips of her songs, I don't detect the musical layers that I have in my songs.  On the other hand, just because she does not have them in her songs, does not mean she does not like the type of music I play.
In summary, I recommend the wearelistening.org song evaluation.  The critique was fair and lengthy.  You will most likely come across a number items in the evaluation you did not think think worthy of covering, and other aspects you think are missing.  People are different, so are critics.

A link to my song is below.


Thanks, Kristin.
Kristin Cifelli can be found here:
We Are Listening can be found here:

Song Title: Overcome

1. What is my strongest element, lyric, melody, or harmony?

I think the strongest element of the song is the melody. I like how the first verse begins in a lower register and then the "prechorus", ("Please, hear this little prayer/Please, my lungs need more air")is in a higher register and more flowing. I especially like the note you end "air" on. It's not your typical "do". :-) The chorus section, "And I'm Overcome/And I'm overrun", is still another contrasting melody. Great work on creating contrast between these three sections!

However, your second verse seems to have a different melody than your first verse. The second verse is in a higher register than your first verse, thus resulting in less contrast when you get to the prechorus again, as well as the chorus. While I like the melody that you have created in your second verse, try to remember to keep your verses consistent. This will ensure that the listener doesn't get lost, too.

Overall, good melodic contour, especially in the prechorus and the chorus!

2. What is my weakest element, lyric, melody, or harmony?

I think that the weakest element is the lyrics and more specifically the flow of phrases. I really like the chronology of your verses and the lyrics are well organized, but I think that they might be able to slip off of the tongue a bit smoother at times. For example, in your first verse, the line, "And you've never felt so low/As your head rests in your fingers" sings a little bit drawn out and a bit less than smooth. Perhaps if you adjust the melody and melodic rhythm a bit, the line would feel more natural. Try creating a melody that doesn't require you to hold out the word, "felt". It seems to lose some momentum right there.

In this verse, it might be more effective to describe the memory that is lingering. A little detail will draw the listener in and it will help us to experience what the writer is so overcome by.

Your second verse, SHOW us how the days are getting long. Are you not sleeping? Are you waking in the middle of the night? What do you see? Are your eyes glassed over from numbness? HOW are you coping with the pain? Are you ordering pizzas? drinking beers, whiskey, wine? Are you listening to music? Let us experience how you're coping instead of telling us simply that you're coping. I really like the third line, "And the taste of food is gone". I think you can go even further by describing something specific. Tell us that the coffee is bitter, or that you're forcing yourself to eat, or that everything is bland...etc.

I would also switch the two lines in your chorus so that the title is placed in the last line of your chorus. "And I’m overrun/And I’m overcome". This places your title in a very strong and memorable place!

Overall, the more sensory stimulating, the better. Don't tell us- SHOW us.

3. Is this demo commercially viable?

I think that this demo needs a little bit of work. Firstly, be sure that the vocals are up front in the mix. When pitching to commercial radio, etc., the first thing people are drawn to is the vocals. So be sure that they are tastefully in tune and in a great place in the mix so that we can hear the lyrics. Also be sure that the back up vocals are in tune, too! I really like some of the vocal octaves you were doing, but again, just be sure that they're in tune. Also consider taking some of the reverb off of the lead vocals. Having that much reverb on the lead vocal takes away from the real quality of your voice.

I really like the electric guitar sounds! They're very current and creative! Overall, work on getting a better mix of the recording, and making sure that all of the vocals are stellar.

Nice song! Best wishes!!