Miracle of Sound - Encore"Sweet L.A." and "Little Sister"Miracle of Sound - Encore - RSS 2.0
I emailed them both a very rough version of the song, with a 4-bar loop of some very simple piano chords and an electric drumbeat, with a rough vocal on top. When these two musicians who I looked up to and admired responded, telling me they were blown away by the song in this skeletal, fetal form, I knew I was onto a good thing.
The saxophone is such a sexy instrument. It's one of the few that can sound almost like singing when played well. Gary had a great feel for the song and came up with these amazing jazz runs in just a few minutes. The solos are gorgeous, delicate and perfect, but my favorite thing he did was putting the harmonies in over the louder part. You can hear them at 1.48, panned left and right to each headphone. To me the sax made the song feel genuine, capturing the 40s/50s vibe of the song.
Jack then took the skeleton of the song and fleshed it out. Having a real pianist is invaluable in a song like this, as they can add dynamics, soul and a wonderful, fluid humanity to it. Listen to how the piano in the verses is quieter, with twinkling little arpeggios punctuating the parts with no vocal, before hammering down the jazz chords for the louder parts. Beautiful.
Vocals aren't something I talk about much as I have always felt they were the weakest link in my music but I'm very proud of them in this song. I wanted them to sound slightly melancholy but also kinda soulful. The lyrics are about Cole's struggle to deal with the troubles of his past (and present) and make sense of the dark, twisted LA underbelly he was discovering. LA Noire is a very sad, tragic story and that's what inspired the song. This was the first time I ever tried this kind of jazzy or soul singing, but due to the great response I will surely attempt it again at some stage.
Speaking of which - this is a perfect example of why sometimes with vocals less is more and how your limitations and flaws can be good things. I think my voice sounds broken, cracked and imperfect in many parts of this song but in a way that adds to the emotional punch of the piece. The "like" at 1.39 is slightly sharp and wavers out of tune a little, but I left it in as I felt it added some humanity and emotion to the line. My favorite part vocally is the line "I long for atonement's arms" - I like the unforced gravelly husk in that line. That just happens sometimes when I'm singing, I don't really know how to control it or make it happen, as I have never had vocal training. It just happens sometimes.
My favorite lyric in the song is, "The reel keeps on spinning lose and the screen is fading to black." Anyone who played the game will know it's a reference to the various plot points involving film reels, while also describing Cole's downward spiral into turmoil and trouble.
When I first listened back to the full song, I got shivers down my spine. I was standing there almost slack jawed; I had never heard my voice sound so good, all because of the way the guys complimented and supported it with the backing. I just couldn't believe what we had created and hoped that others would be as blown away as I was. Sure enough, you guys loved it to bits.