Two of Us (Behind the scenes)

On October 3, 2019 a version of the song Two of Us was released as a joint project between Barley Station and Minneapolis band Radio Drive (Two of Us is from The Beatles Let It Be album)  You can now find it on most digital retail outlets.

And THIS is a little behind the scenes story on how this composition was formed. It is a fitting release considering it is the 50th anniversary of when The Beatles actually finished the final version of this song – which was during the Jan. 31, 1969 session.

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Now, when you sing harmony with someone you really have to be a good listener not just a good singer. You need to hear all the nuances of the other person’s voice. Which is why sometimes people will say to an artist “you sing like siblings”. And usually it is people who have been singing together a long time.

Or in our case, listening in the studio over and over until our voices match properly since we were doing this as a distance project. So making music isn’t just about playing it, it is about listening and feeling it. If you are a musician, producer, or songwriter/arranger, etc., you might be interested in how the rest was put together.

I sent the finished vocals over to Kevin and we were very pleased with how that part turned out and we had lots of comments of how our voices blended so well.  That part was easy enough.

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Kevin Gullickson

One of the biggest challenges of the song, was trying to find the right arrangement. The first idea was to make it a bit contemporary alternative rock. That didn’t work.  Sonically, it was like the song demanded a simpler arrangement. So I went back in time and dug up what was going on when the Beatles were working it up. And not to my surprise, they had tried something similar but it ended up being what Paul McCartney phrased as “too chunky”. I knew exactly what he meant. It was too chunky.

At its core this is a folk song. I believe if you look up the genre of the original on iTunes it is classified as folk/rock.  Keeping to that original concept and also making it into something new would prove to be challenging but we didn’t know it when we started on it.  My approach has always been “let your ears guide you”, as the Beatles’ producer George Martin might say.

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Randy Wayne Belt

I listened to the original and dug up outtakes, including an outtake of the song, recorded on 24 January 1969, which was released on Anthology 3 in 1996. The chief difference to me was whether the bass lines were more ascending or descending but it was clear; those lines were important to the song and oddly enough to its integrity. With the basic rhythm track finally decided upon and liked by both Kevin and myself, I had to shelf the song again until the rest of the arrangement came the way it needed to.

There had to be a way to keep it a simple arrangement but add our own flavor. So I experimented. For months and months I would go back to it to try different things. By the last time I came back to it, it finally hit me. It needed to be mixed similar to what a 4 or 8 track recording would do and it needed a guitar part on the electric end to give it more body but not interfere with the melody or the overall feel.

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And then, the bass guitar part was really crucial to keep the songs integrity. In the album version, The Beatles’ George Harrison played the bass lines on a Fender Telecaster. No one knows exactly why but it could have been done on Sir Paul’s Hofner bass just as easily, but since he was playing acoustic guitar, to keep it with a live feel, George ends up doing bass parts. Imagining being there and knowing a bit how the Beatles worked, I would guess that George picked up his Telecaster and doodled along making bass notes to fill the song out and John and Paul said “lets keep it like that, it sounds cool”. And if anyone would do something of that kind of unusual nature, it would be The Beatles.

So when I lay down bass tracks, I went to my own Viola Bass, the same style McCartney used in the Revolver/Rubber Soul mid sixties era and it was definitely what the song was lacking for its low end.

Then the bongos were scaled back. In fact, everything was scaled back to make it simpler. At one point Kevin even had a Rhodes keyboard track if I remember correctly. And slowly we brought everything back in to see what fit right. The decision was finally made that Kevin’s crunchier electric guitar track would be brought in panned far to the right or left and my tremolo guitar would be far the opposite leaving the basic rhythm and vocal in the middle.

The easiest part to do whatever we wanted with was the double bridge “you and I have memories…”, probably because that part was more “open” and easier to experiment with without messing things up.  The tremolo guitar and the crunchy electric are allowed to stand out more there with the simpler rhythm and bass line.  I think that’s probably the part where you hear our input more – along with the original ideas that probably emanated from the brain of Sir Paul McCartney.

The final result was a balanced non chunky semi-rock version but keeping the song’s original integrity. After all, this is the Beatles. There has to be musical integrity mixed with experimentation. I think that’s how they’d have done it.

Listen on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BPZoxP8E2WU

Listen to Two of Us on Spotify

Buy it on iTunes

Buy on CDBaby

Two of Us by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Copyright Sony/ATV Tunes LLC dba ATV o/b/o ATV (Northern Songs Catalog)

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Heart Song

Review of Heart Song
by Randy Wayne Belt
October 2019

It’s autumn now and the smell of burning wood is in the air accenting the slight nip of chill beginning to make itself known. The perfect background music for warming up or winding down in front of the fireplace has been located.

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After listening to this album by Lisa Mitts in a nice relaxed atmosphere with, yes a real fire in the background, I have determined that the album’s title Heart Song was truly the best title it could have been given. As the title suggests, we can hear the songs emanate from the heart itself with the musical sounds giving life to emotions and feelings that otherwise could not be more perfectly expressed.

I don’t generally do reviews of purely instrumental music but I have to make an exception. This album could also work great not only as a soundtrack, or devotional background music, but is quite a charming album to have on during the Christmas Season.

Lisa Mitts is a Christian singer/songwriter from Washington state with influences of r&b, pop, country, jazz and rock. Her passion is to bring joy, love, and healing through music to everyone who listens. With also a good sized collection of albums under her belt that are more of an indie Christian pop and rock sound it is refreshing to hear an artist take a breather and express his or herself without words as Lisa so effectively does with the
Heart Song album, a collection of 10 piano driven songs released in 2018.

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The opening track Abide in my Love starts the album off setting the pace as a gentle piano piece with string sections woven in and throughout.

Divine Breath is the second track which continues the rich and full piano sound that was recorded just perfectly. Pianos are sometimes tough to get to sound the way you want them, but this was perfectly captured. There is just the right warmth that was captured by the microphone and placement of the mic giving this whole album the feel of a warm analog recording.

Falling Into winter is the next track and the minor chords carrying the song give you that sense of winter coming. It has a certain bleakness to it that speak of the frigidness of winter. But with it a certain beautiful sadness that is best highlighted by the main piano riff that works as a chorus if this were a vocal piece.

The albums’ title track Heart Song appears as track 4 and takes a gentle but bright and uplifting turn from the wintry past and moves on and upward to a more delightful sound and tone and just a touch of flute makes sound as it could be a background music track for an episode of Downton Abbey or the background music for a part of Pride and Prejudice. It has a classical feel to it that takes you back there. This one is my favorite!

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Dancing in the Field is a roving piano tune with strings accompanied at times again. I could hear this for a soundtrack for a very deep movie. It has an edge of sadness to it despite being titled “Dancing in the Fields”.

Leading My Path comes in as track 6 and if words were written to this it could well be a hymn and does have hints of influence from the gentle sacred hymn As the Deer Panteth for the Water“, which again leads us back to the title of the album by mood and emotion. This was the longest track of the album clocking in at 5:42. You can get away with that on instrumentals and this one fills the time as if it is not passing at all.

Rushing River displays once again Lisa’s knack for melody and writing a catchy melodic phrase. In a bit more of a minor chord emphasis, this song also has a wintry feel of the icy cold water moving along and beginning to freeze as if in slow motion at your feet and backs up my claim that this could be a good Christmas Season album, well, as long as you are somewhere where it gets cold in winter!

Track 8 is titled Peaceful Wanderer and once again that knack for melody is on display and with the help of synthesizer strings in carefully selected spots of the song. The song and its chosen melodic phrasing does indeed give a sense of peace and a sense of wandering though not tooo far off.

Joy in the Morning begins to close the album and starts with yet another beautiful melody and structure and has a new twist with some double time melodic phrases thrown in giving the song a lot of added interest. The song explores more of the pianos range and does so effectively. It is a happy type of song just as the title suggests.

And finally, the closing track gives us the sense that the album is complete and is appropriately titled Soul Rest. It gives a sense of completeness and rest for the weary soul. You can hear on this song especially a sense of two different playing styles that I would guess were learned earlier then later and combined together to paint a picture of an accomplished pianist.

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As an accomplished singer, songwriter, performer, and pianist it is no surprise that Lisa is an ISSA (International Singer Songwriter Association) 2019 recipient of the Female Songwriter of The Year (Bronze) and was also nominated in 5 categories for the Josie Music Awards, the largest globally recognized music awards for Independent Artists. She is also a prolific performer and serves as a worship leader. She resides in Auburn, WA with her husband David. They have four children and three grandchildren.

Put this one on and relax at the end of a long day and sit in front of a nice warm fireplace. Or put on a pretend fireplace on your TV screen, have a beverage and chill.

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And what is coming next for Lisa Mitts? Well, she has a pre-release announcement for – yes – Heart Songs Vol. 2: Songs of Peace.

In her own words “I wrote each one of these 11 new soothing instrumental songs by inspiration of God’s love and healing, all of them spontaneously at my keyboard. You will also love the beautiful strings on a few of them added by Billboard producer & sound engineer Kenny Lewis of Mixedemt Emotions who did an outstanding job mixing and mastering.”

The album is anticipated to release on Spotify and on iTunes and all digital outlets by Oct. 25th, 2019. A very limited number of physical CD’s (just 50 copies) are also being made and will be available by the end of this month. You can place advance orders by emailing to lisa@lisamitts.com or calling 425-277-2775.
website: www.lisamitts.com

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pP7RonAsAN91ouZXLi5hC?si=vN3X0AxZSkO4-xTT2OT3vQ

iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/lisa-mitts/359488551

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/lisamittsmusic

Somebody To Love

Review of “Somebody To Love”
by Randy Wayne Belt
Sept. 2019

With a distinctly mid western and southern charmed voice, not to mention a Dove Awards nomination and Josie Awards nominations, Karisa Kay brings and sings her song “Somebody To Love” to life by telling the story of two people who find love in each other for a lifetime.

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You get that sense in this song and can feel an emotion in the singing voice that just can’t be pretended especially on the powerful chorus. And when you see the video (below) you’ll understand why: The song is about her own grandparents. You’ll see the pictures and images and know they were from what we call “The Great Generation”, a generation that understood love for country, each other, and commitment. You can’t help but get a sense of longing for the same kind of thing by the artist when you hear the heartfelt singing.

Originally from Iowa, Karisa Kay is a country singer and songwriter strongly influenced by Gospel and her roots come from traditional country having been brought up listening to Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynnete, Crystal Gayle, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. Those influences come out in her writing and singing and you can hear that she has a heart and soul of old country.

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I like to start at the beginning and this song from the 2016 album is a good starting point. Appropriately fixed as the album title, the song “Somebody To Love” strikes me as the big hit of the same titled album. The song begins with what I call “the Americana beat” – you know, that shuffly country beat you might hear in a Tim McGraw song?

The body of the song is then accented by a bit of slightly crunchy guitar riffs, steel guitars or pedal steel, with a piano giving the under rhythm and at times a bit of accenting counter melody that you don’t notice unless you pick it apart (like a reviewer might do) with the beat. The song is like a revival of when country music was more traditional but with a slight contemporary twist.

Even if you are not a fan of country you’ll have to admit this song has a compelling and crossover chorus.

The chorus is very powerful and strong and grabs you and makes you feel like it is familiar and you want to hear it again and again. The harmonies are carefully placed to fatten up the sound. The key change at the end of the song gives the chorus an extra push without making it feel overdone, as choruses often do, by the end of the song. The lyrics at the end of the story perfectly lead into the last chorus with the line “all because two people found…somebody to love” making the chorus flow right off the last verse/pre chorus.

The songwriting sticks to traditional country theme but does it in a way that shows the song is well crafted, structured, and ready for radio. The sense of melody is apparent and the song will hook you in by the chorus and keep you coming back.

Karisa Kay web page:  https://www.karisakaymusic.biz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarisaKay76/

Listen on Spotify:

Watch the video:

https://itube247.com/video/karisa-kay-somebody-to-love/

The “Waiting” Video is Here

Time is precious and life is precious. We hope our video for the song “Waiting” effectively conveys that.  We often worry about the future, or obsess about the past and forget that we live here and now.  “Now is the day that is here” sums up the song fairly well.

It is a summery song in many ways with catchy guitar hooks, honest lyrics, and melody and harmony that grabs your ears as you would expect from any Barley Station song.

“Waiting” appears as track 1 on the Barley Station album Back There Somewhere, released Sept. 14, 2017.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel here for future releases:  http://www.youtube.com/barleystation

 

Breaking Out

Review of  Verity White’s album: Breaking Out

reviewed by Randy Wayne Belt
April 16, 2018

I remember how relieved a lot of people were when rock made a bit of a comeback in the 90s and I recall a lot of people saying how they felt they could listen to new music again instead of just regurgitated classics.

With rock’s decline in the late 90s and taking a backseat on major charts like Billboards, the dance and electro music chiefly took over pop radio and totally dominated by 2009. However, a pop/rock resurgence has occurred as led by the electro rock of groups like Imagine Dragons. It is almost like a cycle where pop/rock declines – then rock declines then pop/rock resurges – then rock resurges thereafter.

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Will rock make another comeback? Or will it stay almost as a cult following like when it first started? No one knows for sure. But there is one thing that is for sure – Rock is not dead  – and The UK’s own Verity White will be in the leading edge of a comeback!

Influenced by the 90s rock/grunge scene and adding her own twist of pure rock, some electronic, and a touch of progressive, Verity White’s debut full length album Breaking Out continues to do just that (break out). It is a strong debut album that should lodge her foot in the door and kick it in just enough for the next one to break it down.  And Verity isn’t waiting around for some pie in the sky big label to do the work for her.  She is dong it herself!

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Not only do the lyrics ring true from the heart of life’s experiences, Verity effectively delivers her vocal performance to match the moods on each song. Each song has its own character and each character is easily slipped into. And that shouldn’t be surprising considering her background in theater. Whether a song or component within a song requires the growl of a wild cat or the purr of a kitten, Verity delivers. Power and grit with fire and wit – Purr and claw, she’s got it all.

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As Indie Music Mag put it ” A powerful vocalist with a soulful streak that is truly compelling” (indie music mag, May 2017) I think they are onto something here.

If Verity is the wild cat of this album, then Alex, the guitarist, is the tom cat and shows no mercy to the helpless mice as they are shredded by claws of wound string fret to fret. The rest of the band fills right in with the necessary ingredients to cook up a perfect musical meal.

The extra rich crunchy electric guitars lift this album to a new level. The Hughes and Kettner head and Blackstar cab with a Les Paul Custom guitar run through provided the perfect warm and crunchy sound for this album. No wimpy guitars here!

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The textured layers of music on each track create a unique atmosphere for each song and relate to the lyrics in some way. Each song sounds like it was approached with a unique perspective of what that song needed production-wise. Each song was carefully crafted and attention to details are obvious to a scrutinizing listener.

The opening and title track, Breaking Out, with its meaty introduction to the listener of a real rock experience, kicks things off. It’s a musical “scotch on the rocks” and has a message that you can interpret for yourself in the video. (Watch recently released video for the song)

The second track, Zeroes and Ones, starts things off with a taste of keyboard driven verses showing the artists diversity in taste and style and ultimately lead into crunchy rock chorus pieces that flow easily together while following the emotion of the lyrics.

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Demonstrating an understanding of the importance of the bridge of a song as a great reset point, it is clear Verity and her production team have taken great pains to finely tune each track.

The keyboard driven sounds of track two continue into track three and then reset back to the harder edged guitar based riff rock with edgy and attitude oriented vocals. Carefully placed vocal effects further demonstrate that the production ideas of this album were no mere accidents but were carefully planned.

The rock attitude comes out fully in the song I Don’t Care which is a total pure rock song that Joan Jett would have been proud to have written and has the perfect bridge providing contrast to the rest of the song.  The fifth song, See Through It, demonstrates that Verity is capable of utilizing her obviously very trained voice and her sense of melody to give the album a break and slight detour into a bit of electronic pop/rock feel that gives the perfect reset point while it lyrically delves deeper into personal struggles that are ultimately given a sense of hope to overcome by the last track, (which is aptly titled Overcome).

That ability to handle any type of vocal is what led me to be ever more curious of her talent and how this album would turn out.

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So impressed was I with her handling of a number of vocal formats that I asked her to provide the leading harmony vocals on a remake by my own band, Barley Station, of the old dance/pop Madonna song “Borderline” (from 1983/1984) changing its format to a more rock-oriented tune but with a male/female lead vocal. And Verity indeed delivered! (view article on that)

One of my favorite tracks on this album is the song Exhale“. So I wasn’t surprised this was pushed as a single from the album. Like some of the other songs presented in this collection of original songs, “Exhale” combines the cleaner sounds of keyboards and weaves them through the song with the crunchy guitar sounds, creating textures

The album concludes with another of my favorites, the creative and hypnotic track “Overcome“. By now as the album is about to conclude, you understand and have a clearer picture of the concept behind the album of overcoming many of the things we struggle with in life. And especially so the struggles of an artist in a world that imagines perfection is achievable and projects unrealistic demands on its inhabitants. Overcoming the struggles of depression and using music as an outlet and healing mechanism seems to be an underlying theme that is effectively delivered in this album.

The set up is all there for a follow up album to demonstrate that Verity White will be an artist to watch and take notice of and as I said earlier, kick that door in the rest of the way. Verity is always interacting with her fans, has great stage presence, and works her tail off writing, recording, and touring. There’s no reason not to belief that she cannot achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Rumor has it a new single is in the works, so watch for that!

WEBSITE : www.veritywhite.com
SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/7zF9Hwte3JZG8qLDZveCBM?si=V0ZITobGSDeBid2edOg75w
TWITTER : www.twitter.com/veebear
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/VerityWhiteSinger
INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/Original_Verity
PATREON: www.patreon.com/VerityWhite

PR Contact
Email: veebear@me.com

Announcing the release of Borderline by Barley Station

March 21, 2018

This is a Rock/Pop version of Madonna’s song that hit #10 on Billboards Top 100 in 1984. I was on the Billboards chart in various positions for a total of 30 weeks. This new version by Barley Station is more akin to the version of Madonna’s 2010 Stick and Sweet Tour and is a collaboration of vocals between Randy Wayne Belt (Barley Station) on lead vocal and Verity White (Verity White) on leading harmony (and both on backing vocals). It is an across the pond vocal collaboration between he U.S. and UK that will surprise many!

The old saying that a hit song is a hit song in any format bears true.  The new format for the song was achieved by removing the dance/pop elements from the song and stripping it all the way down to an acoustic guitar and vocal and rebuilding it with a rock/pop beat, crunchy guitars and somewhat gritty vocals.  It was with the help of Verity White on a leading harmony vocal that the song was able to be sung with a conviction and reflection of the new atmosphere that helped the song stay true to the integrity of the original underlying song written by Reggie Lucas and first performed by Madonna.

It was deemed by Randy, who produced the new version, that the piano/keyboard melody that opens the song was an important element that should be kept as closely as possible to the original and tastefully translated to the electric guitar. This was achieved by multi- layering various harmonics of the melodic phrases to achieve a thick and believable electric sound.  The rest of the song fell easily enough into place very naturally.

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So far, all those surveyed before the release, liked this version even better than the original.  That could be a matter of taste because the original was a brilliant mix of dance and pop. But at the least, this song works very well in a rockier format to be certain!

The photo for the cover is by Veronica Linge Phillips of Veronica Marie Photography.

You can find Borderline at most major digital retailers such as:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/borderline/1352851105?i=1352851119

On Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/0vXxqupVurPDg7DMFtDK2Y?si=od48UVxjSMq4F-cGtbzkTA

And at CD Baby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/barleystation20

 

Katie Belle Akin: Review of “You Are My Holiday”

 

Katie’s enthusiasm for music and singing has been consistent since an early age.  Following her dreams, working hard, and learning from her mistakes with an always upbeat attitude has helped her multi-task successfully as a musical entertainer and in fashion as a model.

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Since her very first music release, and even since my last review of her music, she has come a long, long way, and like a fine wine, only improves with time.

She has that special “it” in all that she does that brings me to her Christmas song, which I pulled from her back catalog of other great songs.  

Blessed with natural vocal talent and an ear for a good melody, Katie brings home the Christmas cheer easily with her song “You Are My Holiday“. I dug this song up by accident and was surprised I didn’t find it before. It is from 2012 but sounds as fresh as yesterday!  It is pure goodness!

I can hear this song being covered by other artists in the future in a big way. And it is also a great candidate for a Christmas movie soundtrack.

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The rich warm acoustic guitar played by song co-writer Kip Williams starts the song out accompanied by Katie’s naturally pure and very tuned vocals and with the snare brushes and brush hits that give it a light and smooth feel.

Katie’s vocal gives a rich, warm, and enchanting beginning to the song that when the chorus kicks in knocks you out with a fantastic hook that will be stuck in your head for life.

As the song progresses from the perfect opening sparse arrangement, more instrumentation comes in and the bass picks things up a notch and never lets it back down.

With dramatic vocal pauses before the chorus, the song is well arranged and puts the “Merry” into Merry Christmas.

The song will fill you with feelings of jubilee and bright cheerfulness washing away any kind of sadness that sometimes come to many this time of year. The song is like an escape into merriment and blissful joy.

Katie Belle’s Homepage:  http://www.katiebellega.com

Watch the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/gvqd1IKorwI