Friday was a sort of celebration for being finished with the record. Today we finished the record all over again.
I burned rough mixes of the songs and listened to them several times over the weekend, and for the most part I was pleased. I did, however hear some holes that needed to be filled, changes that needed to be made. You hear a song differently when you're jogging, or when you're stuck in traffic. You notice the feel of it, your mind wanders in and out of attention and you listen with a detachment that allows you to hear things you wouldn't ordinarily hear.
That's the way my ear works, anyway.
So I jogged this morning to the new record, then I drove to the studio today with it blaring from my van speakers. I grabbed an old receipt and wrote notes on it as the songs went by (one of the many advantages of having a messy car: there's always paper handy). When I got to the studio we set to work tweaking "All You'll Ever Need". I wasn't sure what was missing from the song, but I felt like something was. Ben added some extra percussion stuff (shakers, tamborine, a baby turtle shell with a deer antler for a handle--whatever Gully had laying around), Gully played some mandolin, and that pretty much buttered the bread.
We then tackled a few editing things on "Hosanna" and "All Things New", which were relatively easy cut-and-paste jobs. Finally we added some keyboards and an acoustic guitar lick to "Don't Give Up On Me". I know this is tedious stuff, but that's what we did.
Now we enter the stage of the record called Mix Prep and Editing, which pretty much makes me obsolete. I'm listening, like I said, for last minute changes, but at this point the songs feel as finished as they're ever going to feel. I spent a lot of time today pacing behind Ben and Andy while they edited or played. My work is pretty much done. My opinions are all that is left.
Todd Robbins, the mix engineer, is starting the mix on a few songs tomorrow, and Ben will deliver the prepped songs as he finishes them. A friend of mine told me the other day, upon hearing that Todd Robbins was mixing this record, that Todd is the best at what he does. I've only met him once, and I liked him, and I hope my buddy is right. Ben's worked with Todd in the past and says that he's the man.
Choosing the mix engineer for this album was strangely difficult. I've been honored to have worked with some of the very best over the years, and each time it was clear who should mix the album long before we finished recording. With Love and Thunder it needed to be Gary Paczosa (of Alison Krauss fame). The record was organic and warm, and he was the man to amplify that vibe. With The Far Country, we were looking for something with color and big-ness, so Ben Wisch (of Marc Cohn fame) was the guy to do it. Ben and Gary are at the top of my list of favorite record-makers ever, and I geeked out at the chance to work with them. (Gary mixed Behold the Lamb and Carried Along as well.)
This time around those names were seriously considered, as were folks like Shane Wilson, but for some reason it wasn't obvious who we should try to rope in. I thought of Todd Robbins because Jason Gray had raved about him, and Ben had some history there. Until last week, though, Todd was one of the other several names of extremely talented guys that were tossed around. For some reason we emailed him, he said yes, and tomorrow he starts. Perfect.
So that's about it.
I know I keep promising more videos. They're coming, I promise.
Listening to: Marc Cohn - Listening to Levon