Chrstina Perri

Sep 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson



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Once ensconced alongside fellow engineer Graham Hope in Sunset Sound—which Chiccarelli loves for its “fat-sounding, custom-built Jensen API console, incredible mics and rooms that still sound awesome”—tracking was done mostly live. “With the exception of ‘Arms,’ everything was done starting out as performance-based,” he says. “Once a tempo is established, I’ll have the singer record a vocal take with the band and we’ll overdub to that vocal take so you always have a guide vocal that is an honest, heartfelt performance.” On lovestrong, all the lead vocals, except for “Sad Song” and a couple of unreleased tunes, were overdubbed later.

“I used a couple of different microphones,” Chiccarelli says. “I figured she’d sound great on a Telefunken 251, but she really didn’t because she’s got such a gutsy voice and it doesn’t necessarily want all that hi-fi ‘air’ that you sometimes like to put on female vocals. It’s the grit and the soul that’s more important, so a tube [Neumann] 67 was on about half the vocals, and then I also used a new mic by JZ Microphones—their V67 is like a solid-state copy of a 67—and it really sounded good on her. It sounded like a bit more open version of a 67, and being a more modern mic, it had a bit more headroom and it didn’t break up in the way a 67 does. On the really intimate songs, [the Neumann] was a little too much—a little too dirty—and that JZ mic being nice and sweet and open worked out really great.” Chiccarelli also employed some of the proprietary DeMedio preamps in Sunset’s old refurbished custom boards on Perri’s vocals, as well as an occasional Neve 1073, a Pultec and a Retro 176. He used a Purple Audio MC76 comp for some of the background vocals.

“The last couple of weeks recording we had two rooms going on, where she would come in Studio 1 with me and do lead vocals and then, when we were done, she’d go over to Studio 3 with Graham and do background vocal overdubs while I was doing keyboards or guitar overdubs in Studio 1 with somebody else. So it was kind of trying for her at times to all of a sudden sit with me for a few hours and do a lead vocal where she had to pour her guts out, and then walk in the other room, switch to the other side of her brain and think about stacking up harmony vocals.”

The album was mixed by Michael Brauer on the SSL 9000J in his new room at Electric Lady Studios in New York. “He has good taste and great ears,” Chiccarelli comments. “I sent him rough mixes of everything and he’s super-respectful of that. He’s very musical and very good at understanding what you’re trying to go for.” Perri was deeply involved in the process, following the mixes remotely in real time through a combination of Nicecast and Skype.

“She is strong and vocal and not afraid to voice an opinion or stand up for what she believes in,” Chiccarelli says. “I love working with artists like that. You can be up front and truthful and have an honest discussion about anything, big picture or small picture.”

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