Here at the Send Me Your Ears studio, we’ve been listening to Cris Mantello’s latest single, Hard Times, today.

In Chris’s words; “Hard Times is a song that talks about how our personal worth cannot depend on the unfortunate events of life or on the speculation of others, and how having confidence and self-esteem is the solution, especially when times are hard.”

When the song begins, the guitars make it feel as though it is going to be an old-style country song, but the moment the riff changes and the drums and bass join the mix, Hard Times becomes a good old style Rhythm and Blues/ Rock ’n’ Roll track.

The simple chord progression is able to maintain interest throughout the track by keeping a powerful riff-based rhythm. Together with the addition of extra instruments and extra vocals, Hard Times will be a delight for fans of Rhythm and Blues. The stops give the track some authenticity and we particularly liked the use of the panned left guitar riff during a break.

Vocally, Cris sounds a little like Job Bon Jovi and he uses his voice and techniques to great effect throughout this track.

The bass line is this track is interesting and busy. It is melodic and captivating and takes on a personality all of its own – it is a real asset to the track.

Hard Times is a real “feel good” track. With some gorgeous little piano fills and some sumptuous harmony vocals, this is a track to get you up on the dance floor.

We loved the 1/2 time section which led into a country-picking style guitar solo, and the resonator guitar at the end is a lovely touch.

To our ears, we would suggest the following EQ adjustments to help balance the track out a little more. A low shelf boost at around 100Hz with a couple of fairly large cuts at around 450Hz and 1.2kHz. A large boost centred around 8.5kHz and an additional high shelf boost in the top octave. These changes should increase warmth and punch in the low end, reduce some ‘honky’ and ‘nasal’ tones in the mids and add extra brightness and clarity in the top end. A light compressor/limiter and maybe 5dB of make-up gain would reduce the peaks in the track and balance out the volume throughout.

If you’re looking for a song to get you up and dancing, Hard Times by Cris Matello will be right up your street.