Monday, April 07, 2008

Saturday In The Studio With Brian ...

Ah, there's nothing like a Saturday morning in a recording studio.

Well, actually, there are probably plenty of things like a Saturday morning in a recording studio. But none of them are coming to me right now.

The point is, it was good to get back behind a mic. Still a tad nerve-wracking – I guess it will always be – but after a wobbly start out of the gate, I quickly found my groove.

Today's effort? Diana Krall's cover of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are."

I did one take and stepped out of the booth to listen to it. My voice sounded shaky. No, my voice was shaky. It's a very intimate rendition, almost whispery with a hint of moan. I stood behind Brian's chair, wincing, saying, "I don't know if I like this tune."

Beth, Beth, Beth ... I have no patience with myself. Honestly. The first take after nearly a year away from recording and I'm ready to throw in the towel because it's not perfect? Yes, I annoy even myself sometimes.

I kept listening. As the track continued, my voice got stronger, the nerves faded. "Maybe it's like the first pancake," I said.

Back into the booth I went, and asked Brian to amp up Diana in my headphones. At home, I sing along with my stereo at a decent volume, so that's how I'm comfortable. Her vocal is like an aural security blanket.

He obliged and I was able to sing stronger yet softer. Yep, I know it doesn't make a lot of sense. But that's this sultry jazz business for you. We're not supposed to sound like Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem.

All together, I laid down three takes. We listened through the third take and took phrases from the other two where we liked them better. I called my patchwork song Franken-music. But that's the digital age for you. Where we didn't like any of our choices, I went back into the booth to punch in those phrases.

Back at the console, we listened through the track again. At one phrase we had just rerecorded, Brian turned his head to the side as if to listen to what I was going to say. When I didn't say anything, he said, "I thought you were going to say, 'I don't like it!' " But no, I liked it after all. Though, as he knows, and I mentioned for good measure, I'm hypercritical enough for 10 people.

He did all sorts of nifty digital things – raising the level in places where I hum a little or my voice is very soft, just so it comes through, for example – and ripped a CD for me.

I listened to it the whole way home and found plenty of things that I want to tweak – I don't call them works in progress for nothing – but all in all, it's a decent outcome for two hours of effort.

And if you need it, the direct URL is here.


Anonymous nat said...

I had been meaning to ask you if I could listen to a recording of yours. Voila! I didn't even have to ask. LOVED it.

11:41 AM  
Blogger J Paul said...

Wow! I have a new favorite jazz singer! Who will be the lucky record company exec to discover the hidden gem known as Beth Kujawski?

12:10 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I have to admit, "Just the Way You Are" isn't one of my favourite Billy Joel songs, but I still think you have a great voice!

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Cannon said...

Very impressive! I hear a lot of sassiness in your vocalization, but maybe that's just me. It's a quality this particular number richly needs. I'd love to hear a straight take--you know, what we'd all hear if we were in the mosh-pit at your first gig. Anyway, nicely done.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Aw, thanks everybody!

Cannon, I laughed at the idea of a mosh pit in a cabaret.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Wow, I guess I haven't heard your voice in song before today. Beautifully done, Brava! Without sounding cliche, your voice is has a smooth, sultry resonance that is very enjoyable to hear/listen to. Its more than a wisper and not smokey.
There is a quality there that can remind one of Anita O'Day, Nancy Wilson, or maybe a hint of Julie London.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wow, thanks, Andy. I have a couple Julie London tracks, tunes I've considered recording. I don't think I sound a thing like her, but I love her voice, so thanks for the "hint of" comparison.

And Nancy Wilson and Anita O'Day. Cool.

Certainly standards to shoot for!

11:47 AM  

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