Here at the Send Me Your Ears studio today, we’ve been listening to the latest single from the delightfully named band, Happy Curmudgeons. Rustic Glory was released a year ago today, and this Detroit-based band have been enjoying performing at Craft Breweries in the Michigan/Ohio area.

Rustic Glory is a song about remembrance. It is a song to celebrate those who loved you and helped you become the person you are today. The band’s main influences are Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Neil Young, and this is very evident in their writing and performance styles. Vocally, lead singer, Dave Hamilton sounds a little like John Prine, which we found most endearing.

Rustic Glory starts with an acoustic picked guitar that leads quickly into a full band sound, with some good use of stereo in the acoustic track. The bass guitar in Rustic Glory, provided by Billy Cox, is a real stand-out feature for us. The bass is present, melodic and really interesting to listen to.

As you reach the chorus, some layered vocals join the mix, with the choruses often ending with a complete stop before moving into the next section of the song, leading to a ‘tension and release’ feel.

From a songwriting perspective, we’d have liked to see a little more development in the second verse, perhaps some extra percussion, or a new instrument, but fans of Neil Young will no doubt appreciate the comfortable and familiar feeling that this song gives.

We thoroughly enjoyed the instrumental section brought in by some well-placed Hammond after a chorus stop. Hammond, Pedal steel and acoustic guitar take turns to take the lead during this section and give each member of the band the opportunity to display their instrument.

Ideas from our ears

Throughout most of the song, there is very little happening in the 500Hz to 5kHz range which makes the vocal track a little too dominant when it comes in. Some extra instrumentation in the mids would help fill out the overall sound. A cut in the low mids around 200-250Hz would reduce some muddy tones and a wider boost centred around 5-6kHz would increase the presence and definition. An additional high shelf boost set around 10kHz would add a touch of ‘air’ as well. The track is fairly quiet too so a light compressor/limiter with maybe 5-6dB of make-up gain would help thicken up the sound as well as raising the overall volume. As always, these are just some ideas from our ears.

Final thoughts

The Happy Curmudgeons are a diverse group of studio musicians that decided to come together simply for the love of writing and playing music. Their single, Rustic Glory will be a winner for fans of Neil Young or Tom Petty for sure.