Single: “Love Story”
Date Recorded: March 2008
Producers: Nathan Chapman, Taylor Swift
Engineer: Chad Carlson
Mixer: Justin Niebank
Mastering Engineer: Hank Williams
Other Projects: Chapman produced and played a multitude of instruments on Swift’s first, eponymous album. He has contributed guitar to recordings by Trisha Yearwood and John Oates and has a songwriting credit on Martina McBride’s new Shine. He is presently working with Sara Evans.
Single Songwriter: Taylor Swift
Mixing Monitors: Genelec 1032A
Mixing Console: Solid State Logic 9080 K series
Tracking Signal Chain: Avantone CV-12; Neve 1073; Tube-Tech CL-1B
Recorder: Pro Tools Engineer’s Diary:
With her second album, Fearless, Taylor Swift has emerged as country music’s newest superstar. Singing with a maturity beyond her 18 years, Swift has also demonstrated outstanding songwriting ability, writing or co-writing every track on both albums.
“Love Story” features all that and an irresistible melody, too. With co-producer Nathan Chapman, tracking engineer Chad Carlson and mix engineer Justin Niebank, Swift created “Love Story” at Blackbird Studio in Nashville (featured in last month’s cover story, “Tools of the Town: Gear Trends in Nashville”). Tracking took place in the API Legacy Plus-equipped Studio D; Niebank mixed on the Solid State Logic 9080 K Series console in Studio F. In between, overdubs took place in Studio E.
Swift sang into an Avantone CV-12 multi-pattern tube microphone from Avant Electronics. “It has a new old stock tube that the engineer Ray Kennedy put in it for me,” Chapman explains. “I’ve tried a lot of different mics on Taylor; I had that mic on loan from Ray as a ‘try this for a while’ mic, and Taylor came to the house to do a radio edit on one of her songs from the first album. When she put on the headphones and said, ‘Test,’ completely unprompted, she said, ‘This is my mic. I love this mic. I just wanna use this one from now on!’ She had no idea what it was, just loved it, and I went along with something that felt right for her. We’ve been using it ever since, and it sounds great on her voice.
“The vocal was a tracking vocal — that’s the vocal she cut live with the band,” Chapman reveals. “The band was just acoustic guitar, bass and drums; everything else was overdubbed.
“I pulled Justin Niebank’s stems into my laptop and used [Apple] Logic to do the pop version,” Chapman continues. “I did the mix tweaks and new parts on my laptop. I muted the country instruments and added the elements that you can hear in the pop version — banjo, fiddle, electric guitar. The pop version’s opening beat is a Logic loop in the Ultrabeat beat generator. All the new electric guitars were done with the Amplitube Stomp I/O. I think there are nine acoustic guitars on that track, and I stacked several background vocals — me singing, ‘Ah’s.'”
Christopher Walsh is the recording editor for Pro Sound News and the associate editor of Pro Audio Review.