Nashville’s, Brian Allison, has just released his latest single, Sweet Marie, and we here at the Send Me Your Ears studio have been taking a listen today. For fans of country music, we’d urge you to take a listen to this well-crafted track.
Sweet Marie is the heartbreaking story of a girl growing up without a father in her life, and the resulting trouble she has trying to find love. There’s a lyric within the song that really pulled at our heartstrings – “He was just a face in a frame”. How poignant is that one line? It manages to paint the exact picture of the girl’s situation and it brought a few lumps into our team’s throats.
Sweet Marie starts with a distant feeling filtered piano with a tambourine. When the full band comes in, it is so much more impactful because of this start. A lovely 6/8 song with some great incidental country guitar licks and some gorgeous present drums.
We like the stereo in the guitars, and for the brief instrumentals, the guitars seem to play off each other, taking it in turns for attention. Dropping back and giving some spot-on gentle riffs between the lyrics, this is a classic country sound done extremely well.
The chorus is rousing and catchy – a real sing-along moment within the song. The all-important second verse maintains interest by adding some distant but very effective harmonies. We also really loved the stop-start verse that builds back into that gorgeous sing-along chorus again.
Allison’s vocals are clear and present in the mix with a perfect amount of country twang in his voice to sound authentic. He has some superb falsetto moments and the portamento that he pulls off as he bends into the choruses is just glorious.
Sweet Marie is a perfect radio-friendly length track that ends with some more gentle piano notes that feel as though they’re being played in the next room.
From a production perspective, we felt that a hi-pass filter at 35Hz to remove all the unnecessary information in the sub-bass area. A boost around 75Hz would add to the thickness and the kick drum and fill out the low end nicely. The vocal is a little heavy around 200Hz so a small surgical cut here would help balance the track out. The vocal is nice and bright throughout but to our ears, the backing track could use a little boost in the top 1-2 octaves. This can be achieved by using a single band compressor for the 7.5kHz and above range with about 5dB of gain which is set to compress whenever the vocal line is sibilant i.e. on the ‘sss’ of “Sweet Marie”. Overall this is a wonderfully full and emotive track that is a pleasure to listen to.
Sweet Marie is a heart-wrenching and powerful country song that we feel would sit well on any country radio station in the U.S. and one which we believe will stand the test of time. A great track.