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CD REVIEW: Marc Jefferies - Hollows
By Cyrus Rhodes - 03/14/2011 - 11:42 PM EDT

Artist: Marc Jefferies
Album: Hollows
Label: Faithstar Records
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock
Sounds Like: Radiohead, Calexico, Elliot Smith & The Smiths
Technical Grade: 4/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 6/10
Best Songs: 28 Weeks, Close to the Bone
Weakness: Erratic Sounding Production (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) Dated Sounding Production, Marketability
CD Review:

Fife Scotland’s own singer/songwriter Marc Jefferies releases his latest CD entitled “Hollows” in 2010 an exciting 12 track catalog citing influences ranging from Radiohead, Calexico, Elliot Smith & The Smiths.

The CD kicks things off with “Re-Offender” a mesmerizing melody that serves up well placed harmonies, inviting 70’s psychedelic flair & heartfelt vocals by Jefferies. Track 2 “I Don’t Know Why” shifts gears a bit delivering driving rock rhythm,  with hypnotic vocal delivery & thought provoking lyrics from Jefferies. Track 3 “The Dying Days” methodically slithers across your ears & Peaks & Valleys its way through to emotional fruition. It’s quite impressive how well Jefferies makes these songs his own, with his effective harmonies & infectious vocal timber. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Radiohead, Calexico, Elliot Smith & The Smiths. The CD offers a rich melodic & vocal foundation. I would classify this music as rock, pop with a vintage 70’s psychedelic rock aftertaste. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice brief splashes of well-placed percussive accents, keyboard accents, harmonica, strings, & lush vocal harmonies layered everywhere. Jefferies voice works well within the catalog & is in the vein of Jon Anderson (YES), Thom Yorke (Radiohead) & Jeff Buckley. I might add Jefferies takes some very impressive vocal risks along the way indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. I didn’t fail to notice a few well-placed falsettos along the way either. From compelling “28 Weeks” to passionate “Rise & Fall” & heartfelt “Not in my Soul” to striking “Close to the Bone” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Where is your Love” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

The overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish, & a bit all over the place. From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding distorted guitars, & drum recordings, to extreme right to left pans, to vocal levels that seem extremely disproportional to the music – this CD has all the trademarks of a "basement garage-band" mix job. This is especially evident whenever the full band kicks in, especially drums, percussion & distorted guitar. Among other things – the production is even littered with obvious timing flaws & I’m not even sure all the instruments are in tune. Bottom Line - It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, & master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1975 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2010, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Jefferies. Given the talent factor of Jefferies & the scope of his songwriting craft, amazing vocal abilities - it’s a bit unfortunate besides being unorthodox. If this review seems lopsided it’s merely a reflection to the extremes presented on “Hollows.”   

In close “Hollows” is a compelling musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – its amazing musical flow & amazing vocal presence from Jefferies. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, & powerful. The songs are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Last but not least Marc Jefferies has an amazing voice & Is a capable songwriter & performer. If I could say anything to Jefferies right now – it would be to surround yourself with world class Mixing, Mastering, & Recording Engineers that can do your music proper justice thus giving your audience a musical production they so rightfully deserve.

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