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by Rod Stewart

The vocal sound on this single from Stewart’s latest UK platinum album is slightly unusual from a mix perspective, because it relies very little on the mid-range to hold its place in the balance. Instead, there’s masses going on above 8kHz, as well as a healthy dose of sub-500Hz warmth. The reason you don’t often encounter this approach on chart records is that the frequencies that ‘travel’ best (ie. those come through reliably on the widest range of real-world listening systems) tend to be the mids, so it’s almost a reflex amongst commercial producers to ensure that the star dominates this spectral range. In this specific situation, though, it’s easy to see the reasoning, because the scooped contour does play to Stewart’s strengths, emphasising both the intimacy and raggedness which are central to his personality as a vocalist. That the small-speaker translation actually turns out to be pretty decent nonetheless is a testament to how powerfully the vocal lionises the upper spectrum, and also to the way the bass guitar tone leaves plenty of room in the low-mid range for the low end of the vocal to spread out without muddying the overall mix tone. This does mean that the bass guitar sounds a little wiry on smaller systems, by endeavouring to cut through the mix higher up the mid range, but I’d say that’s a reasonable trade-off to make under the circumstances.

Trickier to justify, on the other hand, is that the song’s introductory choral passage seems to be about 30 cents flat…