Well, it’s happened again. Facebook said “hey Mike, check this out” (Thank you Mary!) and the skills, boundaries and all out talent to be found in the ukulele world has blown me away. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for this original looper based song from Alaska’s one man frontier band, Ukulele Russ.
I find a lot of loop pedal users spend far too long laying down layer after layer of sound, eight bars of picking, overlaid by 8 bars of percussive taps, overlaid by… well you get the idea and before you know it we’ve being going three minutes before the song actually starts. The structure of the song is left to fend for itself at the expense of an exercise in the creation of a soundscape. If the intended result is an ethereal soundscape of course, I hasten to add, then fair enough.
But not so here folks! In addition to Ukulele Russ’ clear talent as a performer and singer, what struck me instantly was the quick jumps from loop to loop, indeed if you take the video away you would perhaps not even realise such a pedal was involved. The song was clearly written with a looper in mind, it’s make-up never repeats periods of filler material (from a song writing perspective) and a little ukulele tickling is designed to add interest to the structure as the loops take their shape. Every loop, every little ukulele flourish has a purpose to result in a complete and well structured song. That my friends, is difficult!
There are also a few digital vocal harmonies that creep into the tune and again, Russ seems to use this masterfully. Overdone these effects can sound a little fake, but stomped on just at the right portamento moment Russ takes the stance of less is more and brings in the extra notes absolutely on the button to push the song just when it needs it.
I find myself getting carried away a little at the mechanical proficiency of this video but I really should hi-light the absolutely blinding song itself. A real foot tapper of a backing riff, terrific rhythmic vocals a middle section showcasing Russ’ talent on the harmonica (which is sensational) and some imaginative and exciting blues ukulele riffs.
Technically, this arrangement is genuinely outstanding. I am a big fan and indeed user of loop pedals and believe you me, this is a perfect example of how to do it. Add to that the song itself is catchy, upbeat and an absolute joy to listen to and we must conclude we have something pretty special here. Frankly it’s astonishingly good! Pink tank tops for everyone!