Something to Talk About

  • Artist: Bonnie Raitt
  • Album: Luck of the Draw
  • Label: Capitol
  • Year: 1991
  • Producer: Bonnie Raitt, Don Was
  • Engineer: Ed Cherney (record and mix)
  • Studio: Capitol Studio and Ocean Way - Hollywood, CA


The drums throughout this tune sound live and open, exquisitely recorded by one of the greats: Ed Cherney. But note the extra room sound added to the drums in the breakdown after Bonnie's slide solo (at about 2:30). The ear-grabbing room ambience is helped by tasteful compression, and there's even an extra little bit of (compresseed and) gated room sound to push the snare a bit more. I suspect these elements are part of the drum sound throughout, they just get pushed up, and the close microphones pulled back, in this section.

Gated reverb doesn't have to have that over the top 80s sound. This organic, acoustic, and realistic drum sound is a great demonstration of a more subtle approach. Gated reverb can be tucked into the overall snare sound without drawing too much attention to itself. It adds harmonic density, stretches the duration of the decay out a bit, and -- when stereo ambience is used -- opens the snare up left to right. These are all mix moves that outsmart masking, lifting the snare up a bit in the mix. With finesse, it just sounds better than the real thing.

Bonnie's lead vocal has a short stereo echo effect to support and spread her sound. She is the most important element in the mix, afterall. The spreading effect is present throughout the song, but it sits low in the mix, perhaps most revealed in the first verse. The goal is to enhance the lead vocal sound without it sounding artificial. This lead vocal treatment is in deliberate contrast to the dry backing vocals which are panned left and right, out of the way of the lead vocal in the center.


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