HOPE WHITELOCK – STONED

Boulder (US) based singer-songwriter, Hope Whitelock, has just released her latest single, Stoned, and we’ve been taking a listen here at the Send Me Your Ears studio today.

For fans of simple, acoustic, singer-songwriter tracks, this one may be for you. Describing herself as “formerly gifted and currently burned out”, Whitelock has created a track for the “burned-out try-hard that isn’t trying anymore, the people pleaser who really, really sucks at making people happy, and the vaguely self-centered perfectionist who isn’t really actually good at anything anymore.”

It feels to us, as though this is a track that Whitelock needed to write in order to forgive herself for her burn out. The initial vocal line “I used to push my body far beyond what it could do” speaks of how she used to be tough on herself and needs to learn a little more “self kindness”.

The track starts on just guitar. It sounds CAPOd and is bright and crisp with very little low end in it. When the simple, single note, bass line is added, the song feels a little warmer, and as the song develops, some simple drums join the mix and fill the sound. There’s the addition of some keys incidentals and later in the track a tambourine is added too.

Some lovely layered vocals provide background sounds, almost used as instruments in themselves. They fill out the sound beautifully and give the song a great positive energy.

Hope Whitlock’s voice is characterful, fragile and utterly charming. Her control on the high notes is just superb as she flips into head voice effortlessly. Perhaps a touch of Avril Lavigne here?

At around 5 minutes long, it’s unlikely that Stoned is a track which would be picked up by commercial radio (they can be so picky!) but with a chorus that is not only catchy but repeated several times, this may be a track that could be placed in a TV show or movie. Acoustic tracks with just slightly vulnerable vocals are particularly of interest to many music supervisors at the moment and we’d urge Hope to look into this as a possible way of getting her music to a wider audience.

From a production perspective, we felt that there are a few places in the low mids and mids where a little EQing could really help balance out the overall sound of the track. Firstly, the acoustic guitar is resonating at around 196Hz (G) and again around 233Hz (Bb) so a couple of careful surgical EQ cuts here could help balance it out. It is also a little ‘honky’ around 800Hz and a bit ‘tinny’ around 1750Hz. This is more of a mic placement issue than EQ. We’d suggest placing the mic further away from the guitar, facing at an angle. A couple of cuts in the vocal track around 400Hz and again around 800Hz would help them fit better in the mix.

A song for the burned out who just aren’t trying any more, but perhaps should, Stoned is a song of encouragement that you may not be as alone as you thought. We’re looking forward to hearing more from this young Colorado artist.