Recordings Magazine Spotlight Review! 4/25/2015 www.recordingmag.com/tapereviews/2015/04/284.html
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Recording: This month's SPOTLIGHT is an energetic, inspiring "power pop"/rock tune with a jangly vibe, tight arrangement, and some awesome vocals to boot. Some recordings just seem to have a swagger and excitement from the writing right on through to the performance and mix -- and this, friends, is one of them.
Starting with the superbly executed programmed snare drum fill, "Stir it Up" leapt out of our monitors in a big way. Denise and Andy wisely created a believable drum performance here, one that could and would actually be played by an honest-to-goodness human (no drummer jokes here, please!). Far too many of the submissions that we receive fail to adhere to this simple principle, instead opting for what we like to call "octopus" drums, chock full of incredible parts that no mere mortal could ever play. With the drums firmly in hand, the bass is free to complement them, while the melodic part aids in providing movement and drive to the rhythm section. Well done!
Moving on to the melody instruments, we love the contrast between the mildly distorted vs. clean electric guitars here. The Byrds/Tom Petty descending pattern during the chorus was particularly effective in our opinion, lending a 12-string jangle that again provides movement and energy to the mix. We also give props to the pair for the acoustic guitar-driven breakdown at 2:20. Going to the beautifully recorded acoustic guitars here gives this section a purpose and provides a perfect setup for the driving choruses that end the tune.
Saving the best for last, Denise's vocals, both the lead and harmony, are simply outstanding to our ears. The combination of the M-Audio Sputnik mic and Universal Audio SOLO/610 preamp is magic on her voice, and the performance is absolutely fantastic. Rarely have we heard a singer as able to deliver a message in a song with such strength, humor, and conviction, all wrapped up in tight-as-a-glove harmonies. A thing of beauty, say we. Kudos all around for both the performance and the recording!
Summary: Let's see: killer writing and arrangement, plus thoughtful programming, dynamite performances, and exemplary tones. Do we have any suggestions? Yes, that you loyal readers out there (especially the ones who don't have easy access to recorded live drum tracks) take some notes while enjoying a listen to this fantastic song!
released May 4, 2015
(c) 2015 denise marsa & andy gabrys