Essex, UK, based artist, S J Denney has just released his latest single, All I’ve Ever Known, and we’ve been taking a detailed listen here at the Send Me Your Ears Studio.
What a beautiful and well thought out track this is. It’s positively dreamy! The guitars throughout have a wonderful, dreamy tone to them. Baritone guitar sits nicely in the mix. In fact, everything in the mix of All I’ve Ever Known is given its own space very comfortably. No instrument dominates, and in turn every instrument is given plenty of its own space to shine. You’d notice if any instrument was removed, but not so much that anything is overbearing.
We just loved the percussion on All I’ve Ever Known. Some really subtle congas in the background add so much to the overall feel of the song.
Backing vocals come and go at just the right times to help make the chorus more catchy and to distinguish it well from other sections of the song.
There are moments of Michael Stipe (REM) in the vocals, but essentially, SJ Denney’s voice is unique and characterful, holding its own as an instantly recognisable artist. Denney cites Neil Young as an influence, and perhaps there’s touches of him in the vocals, but we felt that the guitar playing and song structure was significantly more unique and listenable. In other words, SJ, we prefer your music!
The thing that we were most wowed by was the harmonica playing. Anyone can blow in and out of a harmonica and call themselves a harp player (remember Alanis?!) , but SJ Denney’s playing is right up there with the best. The incidental harmonica reminded us in places of Supertramp.
For us, it was the harmonica solo that stole the show. Not that we didn’t fall in love with the rest of the song, but the execution of the solo was simply sublime. The vibrato, the bends, the choice of notes and even the choice of silences (“It’s not always the notes you play, but the notes you don’t play”) was just perfect.
From a production perspective, we’d suggest a shelf boost up to 100Hz, together with a further boost centred around 150Hz to add a little more warmth in the low end. A boost around 4kHz will add a little more character and presence into the track and a tiny cut around 16kHz will balance out the track a little more. We’d also suggest trying to push a couple of extra decibels against the limiter to bring the track more into line with commercial releases.
All I’ve Ever Known by SJ Denney is a dreamy, calm, singer-songwriter track with some great choices of instruments, good production, and a catchy multi-layered chorus. One of our favourites this week!