- Singer, songwriter, guitar and occasional harmonica player. I swear I'm not from the South. http://t.co/r1ZjfLPvis
Jesse MacLeod has been given the gift a naturally distinctive, soulful voice. Being the son of bluesman Doug MacLeod, the young singer/songwriter began absorbing the blues at a very young age. Vinyl records of artists like Albert King, Muddy Waters and Son House played regularly through the stereo of his childhood home, this influence is clearly apparent in him today. Also heavily influenced by contemporary folk artists such as Amos Lee and Ryan Adams, he has carved out a unique sound blending the best of today and yesterday. Jesse has performed live in some of the premier singer/songwriter venues in Los Angeles including the Hotel Cafe, WitZend and Room 5. He has had the honor of receiving the award of Best Performer in the Westcoast Songwriters February 2009 Songwriter Competition in Hollywood and was a Top Three Male Finalist in the 2009 So Cal Music Live Competition. He has released two commercial recordings; In Between Homes (2010) and Red Flags (2012). “As The Summer Wanes” from the In Between Homes EP was featured on an episode of the second season of NBC’s The Voice.
- singing, songwriting, lyrics, music performance, music composition
- hip-hop, funk, soul, folk, singer/songwriter, americana, blues, alt-country
- Hollywood, California
Thanks for your submission! I really dig the vocals and harmonies, your voices compliment each other really well. I also appreciate the variety of instruments you used on this track. I think that's the first time I've heard a fiddle, electric guitar and sitar on the same track. I applaud you for taking a risk and combining instruments that typically wouldn't be used together. I'd like to offer a few suggestions. I would shorten the intro, a song needs to grab the listener immediately and I felt like it took too long to get to the first verse. I also felt like the instruments didn't quite gel together throughout the entire song. There were moments where things were locked in and there was a solid groove going but it wasn't consistent. At times it felt like the instruments we're clashing with one another. There is something to be said about having seasoned session players who are comfortable in the studio on your record. You want guys who know how to play together and know how to stay out of each other's way. Often times, less in more. Good session players aren't cheap but are totally worth the investment if you are serious about making the best recording possible. I also would've liked to hear the vocals (lead and backing) more to the front. It sounded like the drums we're drowning out the vocals at times. There is a lot of potential here, keep writing, keep recording and most importantly, keep playing live. I'm eager to hear what you come up with next. -Jesse
Michael, first off I want to compliment you on your voice, guitar playing and lyrics. You have a unique way of stringing words together in a rhythmic way that I have never heard before. Your voice and guitar playing are both very strong, you don't sound like anyone I've ever heard before, you sound like yourself and that is a VERY good thing. You also did a great job of using dynamics thought the song. There were times where you almost brought the song down to a whisper and then launched into heavy strumming and really let your voice ring out, that is what captivates an audience. I get the sense this is something you may not even be conscious of, you just did it naturally. I do have one note, I had a difficult time distinguishing your chorus from your verse because the melodies very similar. You have to be careful to make sure your chorus stands out from your verse and one way to do that is to start your chorus on a different chord than your verse. For example if your verse progression was I, V, vi, IV, using the a V, vi, ii , IV progression for the chorus would set it apart. If you didn't understand what I just said I would suggest studying music theory or even a taking a class. To become a great songwriter, understanding music theory is an extremely helpful if not essential tool you'll need to have. You do have an audience, there are a lot of people out there who would want to listen to you, you just have to find them. The way to do that is to get out and play live and network with other musicians as much as possible, which it seems like you're already doing anyway. Keep writing, keep playing out, you can make a career doing this. -Jesse
Olivia, first off I'd like to compliment you on a few things. You have a very pretty voice, especially when you go into your higher register. Your song is also catchy and singable, I like the use of repetition at the end of each phrase in your verse "When you're gone, when you're gone." I'm going to assume that came naturally and wasn't something you consciously did, which is a very good sign. I do have a few notes. In your first chorus you sang "Honey, if I may. I might ask you..." you took the melody into that higher register of your voice that I mentioned earlier and it sounded gorgeous (especially the vibrato on "ask you.") That is what makes your chorus stand out. I would suggest repeating that melody line in the second half of the chorus where you sing "I know you're not gonna say..." You may have to change the lyrics in order for it to fit (maybe not) but I think it needs to be there. I also noticed in your second chorus when you sang "ask you" you didn't take it into your higher register, I would sing it exactly how you did in the first chorus. Generally you want to keep the structure of your chorus the same throughout the song, it will make it more memorable. The exception to that rule would be in the third chorus after the bridge. That's when you can crank it up a bit and deviate a little from the original structure of the chorus. This leads me to my next note... I'd like to hear a bridge after the second chorus, I would suggest making sure the bridge takes the song in a different direction harmonically. They way to achieve that is to start the bridge with a chord that isn't in the song yet. Try a B minor or F major chord, I don't think I heard either of those in your song. One last thing, and I only say this because I think your voice has so much potential. Some of your notes were a little pitchy and that can be fixed with practice. Keep singing, keep writing, I think you have the potential to reach a lot of people with your music. I hope this was helpful. -Jesse
Hi Olivia, before I review this submission I wanted to let you know that I'm unable to play your "Seasons Go" submission from yesterday. I get a message saying the URL is not a valid Soundcloud URL. You may have to update something in your Soundcloud account. Anyhow, I really like what you have here. It's quite different from your last song, it has it's own unique sound which I appreciate very much. I think an artist's music is a product of what he/she has been exposed to and if you want to go in a more bluesy direction you totally could. I think it's always a good idea to study from the greats who came before, you can learn a lot that way. You can borrow things from them (vocal inflections, guitar licks, etc) and incorporate them into your own sound. The tricky part is making sure you don't sound too much like these artists (not saying you do, just speaking in general.) There's only been one BB King, the world doesn't need another one :) I would suggest listening to artists (if you haven't already) like Bonnie Raitt and Patty Griffin, by far two of my favorite female singers ever. Expose yourself to artists like Albert King, Son House, Robert Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters. These are some the most influential blues artists who ever did it. When you can borrow what they did and mix it with what makes you unique, then you're really on it something. I do have a few notes. Again, I think you have a very unique voice and it sounds good in this style. I'm having a hard time distinguishing the verse from the chorus. You may have to switch up the chord progression somewhere in the song because it seems to revolve around the same chords the entire time. I also feel like this song lacks a hook, the hook is usually the main point you are trying to get across in the song, it is typically at the end of the chorus. An example of a song with a great hook is Will Hoge's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart." Everything in the song is leading up to that last line in the chorus, and when it's finally delivered, everything else in the song seems to makes sense and fall right in to place. The effects on the background vocals sound really cool but I think they are too loud in the mix. Generally you want the background vocals to be tucked away in the mix to where they are not competing with the main vocals but are still loud enough to where you could tell if they were taken out of the mix. Again, I like what you have here. I think a few tweaks can really take it to the next level. I hope this was helpful. -Jesse
First off, I want to compliment both of you on the songwriting and performance of this tune. The melody is strong and memorable and your harmonies are top notch, it reminded me a bit of Simon and Garfunkel. I'm generally not a fan of sax on a tune like this but it works for this particular song so kudos for taking it in a different direction. There were a few times when your mouth wasn't completely synced up with the vocals on the track. Maybe you were lip syncing or you had a hard time hearing the track when you were shooting the video. One thing to keep in mind when you're shooting a music video (if you aren't doing this already) is to make sure you can hear the track clearly and sing the lyrics exactly how you would as if you were performing them. That way every breath/facial expression will match up perfectly with the recording. I can hear this song being placed on TV or in a commercial. I would submit your music to non exclusive licensing companies like JinglePunks.com. Most of them have a screening process and are selective with the music they allow into their database. I think your music would do very well there. I hope this was helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your career. -Jesse M.
John, first of all I'm astounded that you started singing lead vocals a year ago. You have a great voice and singing seems to come very naturally to you. Love the song, I would imagine it's about you recently deciding to follow your passion in making music after having it on the back burner for a while. The message in the song is universal which is great because it can be left open to interpretation and different people can relate to it in their own way. When I was listening the first time I thought the pre chorus (But I didn't know...) was your chorus because you went back to the verse right after. A couple verses later you launched into (I didn't know if the sun would rise...) and I said to myself "Ah there it is." Typically I would advise someone to get to the chorus sooner but I think you pull it off with this particular tune. The pre chorus gave the song enough variety to hold me over until the chorus. I see that you have your own website with your CD and promo video being the first thing people see which is excellent. I also didn't have any trouble finding your site when I googled your name which is very important. Having your music on Spotify is also essential. Nowadays having a record (especially for indie artists) is more of a promotional tool than anything. I would get out and play live (if you aren't already) as much as possible, every night if you can. A lot of independent artists make a living through their live show (selling CD's, vinyl, t shirts, etc) and by getting their songs placed in TV and film. If you haven't registered as a publisher and songwriter with a performance rights organization (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC) do so immediately so you can receive royalties if you get a placement. Check out JinglePunks.com for placement opportunities. They have a screening process for all song submissions and your music will be exposed to TV and film people should your music make it into their database. Congrats on rediscovering your passion and thanks for the submission! I hope this was helpful. -Jesse
Hi Claus, The first thing that struck me when listening to this video was the vulnerability in your voice, I think it is one of your greatest strengths. I listened to the studio version on your Soundcloud page and I noticed you are fingerpicking as opposed to strumming in this video. I would suggest fingerpicking the first half of the song (from "Oh my, oh my" to "The days are lost") and then start strumming once you enter the second verse "Oh my..." I think doing so would allow the song to build and make it more dynamic. This is clearly a very deep and dark song, you're using a lot of minor chords and the lyrical content matches the mood of the song which is great. I personally would like to hear it at a slightly higher tempo an with a more active groove. Use this Jason Isbel song for reference, I think this groove would sound great on your song... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUqHEzgFRoA Another suggestion I would make is to add a chord substitution in your verse. As it stands your verses goes... Am G Oh my Oh my, Where is my little box Am G Oh my Oh my, Where is my... By replacing the G with an Em or Em7 at the end of the second line, it would give the progression more color and would make a more distinct transition into the next section of the song. So it would look like this... Am G Oh my Oh my, Where is my little box Am Em(7) Oh my Oh my, Where is my... I think you have something here. With a few minor tweaks you can take this song to the next level. Thank you for your submission, I hope this was helpful. -Jesse
Hi Cyndi, First off, I think you have a very fresh, original concept. One of the biggest challenges of songwriting in my opinion is to say something that hasn't been said before. You certainly accomplished that with this song. You used vibrado on a few of the notes in the song and it sounded really good, I think you should use that vibrato more often in general, it sounds really good in your voice. I also really like the melody, groove and chord changes, it almost has a Santana-esqe vibe. I would continue to collaborate with Bill, he seems to be very good at what he does. I had a hard time understanding some of the lyrics, they way you pronounced some of the words made it difficult to comprehend. That's not necessarily a bad thing as it is often a stylistic choice. I noticed you didn't list the lyrics so I am unable to give lyrical feedback, just something to be aware of in the future. The video quality is also very well done and professional, I would check The Hype Machine for promotional opportunities. Thanks for your submission I hope this was helpful. -Jesse
It seems like a excellent system. It's difficult to find people who can give honest feedback on our art. I feel like more people need to know about it. For the time being, I think word of mouth is the best form of promotion. I will definitely be talking about it because I feel like a lot of people can benefit from it.