Customer Review

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing new voice but rubbish CD production, 4 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Light After Dark (Audio CD)
Heard this playing in a local store, asked who it was, listened to some clips, and bought the CD.

This is the best new female vocalist I've heard for a long time. Clare's voice is stunningly smooth and powerful. Like other reviewers, I like all the tracks on this CD though there are some stand outs, like Shield and Sword. And it's nice that the tracks are new and all but one is co-written by the artist.

My only gripe is that with her unique and striking voice obviously being her strongest asset, why doesn't the sound mastering/production on this CD let us hear it as it could and should be heard? Instead, every sound or instrument seems to have been boosted to the same maximum volume, including the singing. The result may grab your attention in a shop or on the radio (like it did me), but listening on good `phones or on a modest home stereo the CD seems strangely "unnatural", a wall of sound, which after a while is irritating and tiring to listen to. This is a shame, as I want to listen to Clare's songs and singing. Her voice is so amazing it doesn't need this boosting or blanketing.

Clare, if you read this, please do a more acoustic album, and please insist that next time the CD mastering isn't so over the top and gives your voice room to breathe. Still 5 stars though, as this album is still from the best new vocalist I've heard for yonks and this comes through in spite of the over production.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Mar 2011 10:44:52 GMT
Over processing is something that is really irritating in radio. So many stations do it to sound 'louder'. If as your review implies, this has been carried through to the production of this album, that to me is a shame. The singer's voice should sell and album, not the style of production and audio processing. I have listened to the clips on Amazon, and it sounds good, but I am afraid your comments have made me wary of a purchase if the sound production is that bad.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2011 16:00:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Mar 2011 19:47:34 GMT
Happy Ears says:
@ BC Winter

Please don't let my moan about the CD production put you off, just be ready to put up with it. The main reason I bought this was I was bowled over by her wonderful voice and the songs I heard playing, not the production etc which only later became a niggle. I don't regret buying this at all. I just hope the next one gives her more air.

I agree with you that it is a singer's voice which should sell their work. And I'm sure her voice would sound stunning with the sort of sparse accompaniment "audiophile" artists like Diana Krall and Katherine Jenkins sing to. And maybe one day she will be up there with them. This does not set out to be that sort of CD though. But nor is it throwaway pop. I expect she has yet to find a niche, but I think she could have wider and longer appeal by toning down the electronica and production.

As for the badness of the production this might not trouble everyone but I was surprised by the overall "loudness" of the CD. This, and the sometimes boomy, electronic backing means it sounds better pumped up than quiet, when it becomes a bit taxing after a while. Yet, and here is my frustration: she really does have an obviously great voice. In my opinion, better than current popular female singers (Adele, Amy Winehouse, Duffy...). She's been likened to Stevie Nicks and Annie Lennox, and there is definitely something nicely "old school" about the sound and lyrics. I'd say she's more like (and better than) a modern Belinda Carlisle. Her voice comes across as deeper, and even more powerful and versatile than any of these singers. And she uses it in many ways here - from soft whispers, operatic quivers, to belting it out.

One thing's for sure, it really sounds like she has thrown her soul into this.

I hope you will buy this, and will post your own thoughts. I buy a lot of music but this is my first music review here because this CD made such a strong impression on me. My point is that unlike a few other artists I can think of, she simply doesn't need the "wall of sound" production here and sounds good not because of it, but in spite of it.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2011 17:07:52 BDT
if you want to hear her voice as it is go on youtube and there are many live performances and this acoustic i love especially!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2011 02:45:39 BDT
Happy Ears says:
Thanks Christopher, that is a really good link. yep - I've got my hopes up for the next album.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2011 09:30:22 BDT
Alan B says:
Happy Ears - I'm with you 100% here. I eagerly awaited this album, but it's another victim of the pathetic "CD Loudness Wars". I played it once, but the sound (especially on "The Last Dance") is so severely clipped and compressed it is literally too painful for me to listen too. As you say, this is a very great pity - shame on the record producer and record company.

However, I have just run it through a program (SeeDeClip from CuteStudio Ltd) that does a superb job of salvaging butchered albums like this. Amazon please note: I'm not connected with the author or product in any way. I'm just a very happy customer who is now finally able to enjoy the CD I purchased, and I hope that by making people aware of this program more people will be able to enjoy this album.

I live in hope that someone who actually cares about audio quality and getting the best out of the artist produces a remastered version at a later date, but in the meantime I am at least able to enjoy a self-produced much improved version of this great album!

Posted on 2 Jun 2011 22:47:38 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jun 2011 22:48:03 BDT
ddan says:
Its a problem with a growing awareness:

And I totally agree with you, this crazyness is ruining music especially for those of us that care about it and spend money on decent equipment.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2011 12:38:48 BDT
Happy Ears says:
I've learnt a lot from these comments. Thanks everyone. It's heartening to know I'm not alone - if anything I've been slow to pick up on the "loudness wars". I'm one of the dumbos who used to think that "re-mastered" CDs were bound to sound good....

But - just to show that modern CDs actually can sound good if made right - and since we're still talking female vocalists - anyone reading this might like to check out Kate Bush's "Director's Cut - Collector's Edition". The production of all 3 CDs in that set sounds exceptional to me, plus the music is pretty good too.....(!) I've only just bought it and I liked it so much I posted a review of it - this time without any moaning about the production. Hope the link works:
Director's Cut
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