Lucky Now

  • Artist: Ryan Adams
  • Album: Ashes & Fire
  • Label: PAX AM, Capitol
  • Year: 2011
  • Producer: Glyn Johns
  • Engineer: Glyn Johns
  • Studio: Sunset Sound, Hollywood



Among its many uses, reverb can add support and flattering spectral shading. The long, warm hall-type program on Ryan's vocal is expertly tucked back in the mix by Glyn Johns. It doesn't create any illusion of him singing in a large space. His vocal remains close, intimate, perfectly intelligible, conveying all the emotion we expect from a close-microphone placement. The reverb offers subtle resonance with a tilt toward the low frequencies. The sustained reverberation sonically supports the vocal, adding warmth, width and decorrelation, without diluting the human connection between singer and listener.

At first, you may only hear the ear-tingling bit of decay that is most revealed at the end of phrases and in the occasional long spaces between some words. A predelay approaching an 1/8th-note in duration adds a bit of fragile openness. That bit of bloom seems to intrigue our ears; it pulls us in.

What you hear between phrases is only part of the effect. Your advanced-listening challenge is to also hear the effect even while he sings. The reverb pedals along, just underneath it all, adding the essential pop polish that so flatters the vocal performance.

Take your craft to the next level and notice how the reverb changes slightly during the song. Choruses get more of the effect than verses. The second verse gets more than the first. But the last verse is drier, and maybe a little thinner than the first. Pay attention to the lyrics for some reasons why that might make sense.

Reverb, particularly when used for support and timbre in this way, invites us to get creative and to tie our mix moves to the details of the writing and the performance.


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