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All ears...

I've gotten a first full mix of almost all of the tracks at this stage and am in listening mode. It's difficult to be objective. Difficult not to hear what you were hearing (or liked most) in the rough mixes. Difficult not to over-listen the lead vocal. Difficult not to visualise each of the players playing each of the parts. Difficult, that is, to just listen and trust your ears.

And that's kind of what I need to do - just listen. I've been involved in so many different types of music over time - marching bands, concert bands, chamber music, orchestras, big band jazz, folk groups, folk-rock groups and even a German beer tavern band! - that I need to trust my gut, trust my ears. I have played and listened to a lot of music. I know what I like (and why I like it), and I know what works. Now I just need to hang in there and ensure that the final product is as good as it can be,

I also need to be sure about my motivation for any suggestions I may have for changes in the final mixes. One of the reasons I wanted to work with my producer, Tommy McLaughlin, is because he is so good at what he does. His job, every day, is to use his ears, his musical sensibility, his judgement, to make the music that's brought to him sound as good as it can. And he has helped to make some wonderful music - listen, for example, to SOAK.

I want Tommy's aesthetic built into the music, sometimes dragging me to unfamiliar places, sometimes amplifying what I'm hearing but most definitely allowing scope for the music to be a collaborative effort. The musicians - John McCullough, Jay Dickson, Declan McLafferty and Marty Smyth from the wonderful In their Thousands, and Chanel McGuinness - also had the freedom to make their mark. They worked within a framework but brought their fabulous skills and experience to bear.

And that's the great thing about music. It's all about a collective effort. Different skills, different visions, and different tastes merging to create something new. Something that wasn't there, now is. As Queen sang, "It's a kind of magic!"

So, it's all ears for the moment as we move towards the endgame and a final mix before the album goes off to be mastered, given a final polish to make sure it's ready for your ears.

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