Record Production

“For me, record production is the most exciting of all the musically creative processes. Record production is about having a vision. It’s about taking a song in its raw form and realising its potential without detracting from its message or destroying its spirit. It’s about living the lyric and understanding its essence. That doesn’t just mean instrumentation, musical arrangement and processing. It’s about vocal performance. Familiarity can sound like indifference. An artist can be so familiar with their song that they lose vocal emotion. The song becomes lifeless and fails to move. I want artists to feel the way they did when they first wrote the song, struggling to utter the lyric, so moved are they by the words they have written. Getting the artist to rediscover their own song and feel what they are singing, is as big a part of production as all the other elements put together. I don’t care that an artist doesn’t sing like Paul Carrack. The most important thing is delivering the song. Even the least talented of singers will evoke a tear with a heartfelt performance. When the lyric starts to move me, I know we’re getting close to the definitive take.”

Richard has a passion for the work of singer/songwriters. Having performed and produced his own material since being a teenager, he understands every part of the process. He knows that a reckless and non empathetic approach to production can destroy a song. When striving for the perfect production, only the best will do so, when necessary, he calls on the services of only the finest session musicians.

Rob Cowen’s ‘Lady Advertiser’ sessions.

Stubborn Records wanted to release this song as a single. I knew exactly the direction I wanted to take. The essential element needed to be piano with a slight hint of Bruce Hornsby to set the mood. I contacted Mark Walker who was on tour with Westlife. When the tour hit Yorkshire, he turned up and duly obliged. I now had the canvass. The piano was recorded in midi so future editing and choice of sound were still options. To lock the track together I wanted a jazz acoustic feel so for the rhythm section I journeyed to Hertfordshire to employ the services of drummer Gavin Harrison. Travelling to Gavin’s studio was by far the best option, both financially and practically. Gavin’s pedigree means he is constantly busy, so scheduling the session was important, particularly as I had another idea up my sleeve. To complete that acoustic Jazz feel, who else to play upright bass than legendary Danny Thompson. It had been my ambition to work with Danny for years and, having previously sent him a rough demo, he was only too happy to be involved. The day spent in Gavin’s studio, directing these fine musicians was a memorable session. A short hop up the road to Buckinghamshire and to Snake Davis’s studio for some plaintive saxophone. I have worked with Snake on many projects over the last twenty years and he never fails to come up with the goods. He takes on board the brief and within three takes it’s in the bag. No wonder he is in such demand with top recording artists. So back home to stitch everything together. The backing track was sounding something like - time for Rob to do the definitive vocal. A few minor changes to the lyric and debates over delivery and we had it. As much as I liked the mix, something was missing. I was looking for the finishing touch. Backing vocals! As simple as that. Female, plaintive and pure. I set about writing the part and, within a couple of days, Beverley Craven was in the studio. Beverley is very special and her platinum selling status soon shone through. I gave her a free rein and my original idea blossomed into something that, had there been room, would have seen me cart-wheeling round the control room. A couple of days away from the song, a bit of technical tweaking, faders back then, on with the mix. When I played the finished song to Rob, he remarked, “Awesome.” I felt very proud.

Rob Cowen ‘Lady Advertiser’

Produced by Richard Dover.

Reproduced by kind permission Stubbornsongs Music Publishing Ltd


Snake Davis

Gavin Harrison

Danny Thompson

The making of ‘Hangingstone’ from the EP ‘Storm Coming’ by Rob Cowen.

Piano - Richard Dover

Dulcimer - Richard Dover

Cello - Judith Scarfe

Produced by Richard Dover

Reproduced by kind permission Stubbornsongs Music Publishing Ltd

click on the sleeves to hear the tracks

Beverley Craven