Stephen LaVine – Midnight Manic Thoughts

Solo artist, Stephen LaVine, has released his latest single, Midnight Manic Thoughts, and we’ve been taking a listen here at the Send Me Your Ears Studio today.

Midnight Manic Thoughts is about 4 1/2 minutes of gentle singer-songwriter that builds as it progresses into a soft rock style song.

Stephen describes himself as a “father and a deep thinker and always at the threshold of depression”. He describes in his biography how his music is created at night when his wife and family are asleep and he has the time to himself to consider the ramblings of his own mind.

Lyrically very interesting, we love the line;

“I just opened my mouth and my teeth fall out and there’s still no sound
I can’t fix my head so I stay up with the night”

Despite the lyrics sounding as though they are from a place of sadness, the overall feel of Midnight Manic Thoughts is a positive, almost anthemic one.

Midnight Manic Thoughts starts gently on some lovely stereo acoustic guitar. When the vocals come in, they are gentle and fragile. They are suitably vulnerable for the subject matter and carry the song well.

Pianos and synths add to the overall soundscape and low pass drums which then build into full drum sound help to keep the song rising. There are harmony vocals in places which sit well and help to bolster the lead vocal, making it even more appealing and endearing to listen to.

Midnight Manic Thoughts rises and falls well with lots happening all the time to maintain the listener’s interest. Occasional tambourine comes and goes and various sound effects and synth pads all add to the overall enjoyment of the song.

This felt to us to be heavily influenced by the likes of Marillion and the following solo projects of Fish. In particular, there were places where the entire song had the feel of a Fish album track – especially perhaps the Marbles album from the early 2000s.

From a production perspective, LaVine has done well to get the track to this level when he mentions that it’s been produced at night in his home. Perhaps not the time for loud mixing for the sake of happy family relations!

Our thoughts on the production (and of course, they are just our own) would be to suggest a boost of the first 2-2.5 octaves to add a little more warmth to the track. A wide cut across the middle frequencies will help balance everything out and a boost of the top two octaves, (whilst being careful not to boost too much around the 4kHz area out of concern for adding too much harshness to the snare) will help to add a little more brightness and air into the track. We’d suggesting considering bringing the frequency of the kick up a little to make it more audible and adding a couple of decibels gain to the overall track to bring it more into line with commercial releases.

Midnight Manic Thoughts is a relaxing, wash-over-you kind of song for the insomniac. It is an anthemic admission of spiralling thoughts and over-thinking that leaves the listener feeling surprisingly elated and ready for the day. We love this!

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