PROFESSIONAL DEMO REVIEW - Sep 28, 2009
-“With such a snappy title I was expecting a suitably catchy tune but I’ve listened it several times now and it’s yet to register.”
This month the Professional Demo Review feasts on some fingalickin’ R&B grooves as our glistening web of industry expertise entraps three new tracks by three of our unsigned Artists of the Week.
Offering their critiques of songs by Patrice Bowie, Sebastian and Bentley are producer Andrew Lane, talent agent Debbie Fontaine and A&R, and industry all-rounder, Terence Turner. The judges analyse all aspects - vocals, production, composition, and visual presentation; provide tips on improving the tracks; evaluate their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, and advise on approaching the music industry.
Remember, demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To get your music assessed by our expert panel upload your tracks here.
The ArtistsPatrice Bowie – USA – R&B
American R&B Singer Patrice Bowie has pursued her career by working with artists such as Mya, Sean Paul and Sisqo, and by working on the Barbershop II Soundtrack. She is available for record and publishing deals.
Sebastian – USA – R&B
As a singer, writer, arranger, and producer, 24-year old Sebastian brings new meaning to the term ‘Renaissance Man’. Well-versed in multiple genres, Sebastian brings a new wave of sound to the world. He combines his love for hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, pop, and jazz to create an eclectic and entertaining blend.
As a young boy, Sebastian had dreams of being able to escape his troubled childhood, and he knew that music would be his way out. With his mother and family as moral and emotional support, Sebastian has pursued that goal with a spirited abandon. Not only does he sing and write, but he also plays the piano, drums, guitar, and other instruments. He is available for record, publishing and management deals.
Bentley – USA – R&B
22-year-old R&B singer Bentley hails from Albany, Georgia in the USA's deep south. This young talent is currently enjoying heavy local radio rotation and is available for record and publishing deals.
The Industry Professional Review Panel
Andrew Lane – Producer - USA
Producer, songwriter and recent HitQuarters interviewee Andrew Lane is a passionate force in pop music. His talented ear and dedicated work ethic has paid off spectacularly, with his work with R&B boy band B5 helping both Disney’s ‘High School Musical’ (US No.1) and ‘Hannah Montana’ (US No.1) soundtracks reach the top of the Billboard 200.
Debbie Fontaine - Talent Agent - USA
Born with the ‘Fontaine’ instincts for recognising exceptional talent, Debbie began learning music from the business standpoint while she was still in high school. Following school, she would go directly to work for her mother Judith Fontaine’s agency and help select and develop the talent.
Now several years later, having graduated from law school and become an attorney, Debbie's heart and soul remains in artist development and has become a strong, independent factor in Fontaine Music Agency. According to Music Connection Magazine, Debbie has one of the best “ears” in the music industry. She has the ability to listen to an artist perform and know, with uncanny certainty, whether that artist will be snapped-up by a record company. She believes in the traditional approach that record executives used to take towards artist development - that an artist should be given the time and resources to develop into a well-rounded performer with a distinct visual and musical style.
Debbie is always on the lookout for new, exceptional, talent. Fontaine Music has secured deals with all the major record labels.
Terence Turner – A&R - UK
An industry chameleon, Terence Turner has enjoyed a hugely varied career spanning over 20 years, finding success as a concert promoter, artist manager and even briefly as a TV presenter. However it is as a record company A&R that he found his proper niche, working with and developing the artists that he loves at major label EMI and Telstar. As a long time champion of London’s rich and varied urban and R&B scene, he has experience working with a host of young talent including Mis-Teeq and Jamelia.
Andrew Lane - 4
“I felt that while the vocals were strong and very focused, the track that supported it was very weak and uninspiring.
The intro breaks an important rule in being much too long - it should have got to the point within the first 10 seconds.
To me it sounds like an unfinished demo that needs a lot more work in order for it to reach its highest potential. I love her look, but there was no connection with the music that sold the total package to me.”
Debbie Fontaine – 8
“Patrice's slick sassy sound, breezy vocals and refined innocent tones are hard to resist. Her songwriting compliments a dance/club mode that is a bit sexy - certainly not a bad thing as Madonna's early club albums as well her albums to date have proven great success.
The idea of mixing instrumental/R&B beats with rock instrumentals worked well for the lyrics. However I didn’t like the intro and how it didn’t give you any idea of what to expect.
The song is melodic and catchy. Within the first minute of listening to the track, I was singing along to the chorus. It's a fun song.
Terence Turner – 5
“Certainly a bold and brave intro - reminded me of jazz fusion with the synth washes and fuzzy sunset guitar - but unfortunately in this game of instant gratification and short attention spans, for such an intro to work it would either have to grab you by the throat or sound so different and inspired that it gets you interested and excited. This does neither. It sounds a bit too much like an advert for a soft drink.
I like her voice very much, and it’s attitude, and I also like the spare production where there’s a nice economy and space. What’s more it’s novel to have such a strong and dominant rock guitar on an R&B track and works quite well.
Unfortunately the song itself is very underwhelming. With such a snappy title I was expecting a suitably catchy tune but I’ve listened it several times now and it’s yet to register.”
Andrew Lane - 6
“I love the vibe in the intro of the song – that got my attention right away. However the vocals need to come up in the mix in the intro to set up the song. In fact the song as a whole also needs a better mix because it still sounds like a glorified demo. To get attention nowadays the song really has to sound radio ready like a single that’s already making a lot of noise in the market.
The sound of the track is very dated to my ears, and the chorus should be bigger - like an anthem, as if a crowd of 100,000 fans could be singing that chorus right along with Sebastian.
The song itself I like a lot, but it needs to follow the correct steps to make it a radio single smash.“
Debbie Fontaine - 8
“Sebastian's track brings together a fresh perspective to the reggae and R&B formula. He is a full package talent who writes, composes and plays the instruments. His simple, yet exceptionally compelling lyrics are loaded with messages that yearn for unity.
His clear vocals are pleasant. I could hear an audience singing along to this song. Without being political, the song has an anthem-like vibe for peace and harmony. My only criticism is that the musical arrangement could have been fuller for this great song.”
Terence Turner - 8
“Now this has a great intro – it really draws you in with its warm live-sounding context. You’re not sure what to expect. The audience-like background voices work brilliantly well, and are mercifully restrained – it could have easily been over egged into an overblown anthemic track.
On saying that I think the spare and somewhat reserved production would limit its impact over the radio. Its power to make you listen up all rests on the vocals. Fortunately these are quite impressive - impassioned but balanced with memorable vocal lines, and effectively supported by a simple acoustic guitar riff.
I would definitely like to hear more from Sebastian – perhaps to see him live to find out if his performance is as inspiring as it sounds here.”
Andrew Lane - 8
“I love this kid and I feel he has the total package. This track is very Usher-esque with a tint of Ne-Yo infused in his vocals.
I love the hook melody, but think the track itself is weak and gives no support to the vocals. The chorus needs more harmonies added to the vocals. Bentley himself needs to be more sure of himself on the ad-libs to fully support the story line that he’s singing about.
These are things that can be easily fixed by not just settling to have just a good song but a great song.”
Debbie Fontaine - 8
“Bentley is no exception to the rule of R&B singers and has the kind of voice that would fit seamlessly with such pop/R&B artists as Usher, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo.
His musical style exhibits genuine traditional R&B tones that will never die. This track is wonderfully stripped down to Bentley's emotional and heartfelt essence because he keeps his music relatively simple and easy to follow. Still, a little more originality would go a long way.
Bentley's vocals demonstrate considerable grace and self-assurance. He is an act who targets the mainstream radio dial. Bentley's youth combined with his musical goals should allow him to embark on a potentially lengthy career. “
Terence Turner - 5
“This is your classic US-style solo male R&B, and although Bentley acquits himself commendably against such genre forebears as Usher, this really doesn’t take the format anywhere it hasn’t been before. I wouldn’t go for this track for that reason first and foremost.
As an urban balladeer, Bentley shows a great deal of promise but I don’t think he’s well supported by the production. It’s effective enough, and nicely arranged, but it’s also hugely uninspired. The main keyboard string line in particular sounds really dinky and cheap – it’s synthetic in a bad way.
If he wants to get noticed in the sea of R&B crooners, Bentley should rethink the production on his tracks and go for something more imaginative. He has the voice.”
Next week: The Next BIG Nashville festival is here and we've got an interview with president and co-founder Jason Moon Wilkins
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