Press Release


On Her Sophomore Album O'Farrell Street, Shoshana Bean Looks to Neumann to Harken Authentic Sound of Late '60s Soul Recordings

Recording Processes and Equipment Painstakingly Researched to Capture a Bygone Era of 'Timeless' Music — Without Samples

· Old Lyme, Conn. – Shoshana Bean is perhaps best known for her stellar performances as Elphaba in the smash Broadway musical Wicked. But she is also an accomplished recording artist who has just released her second album, O’Farrell Street: a new studio recording that displays an uncompromising commitment to her work. O’Farrell Street harkens the classic Stax and Hi recordings of the late sixties and features Shoshana singing through a Neumann TLM 67 large diaphragm microphone throughout.

Shoshana's new album O'Farrell Street captures the sprit of late 1960's Memphis Soul.

Shoshana’s new album O’Farrell Street captures the sprit of late 1960’s Memphis Soul.

The evolution of the album goes back to Shoshana’s childhood. “The album began with my wanting to honor the sound of the late sixties and soul music — Stax and Motown, mostly,” she says. “I was raised on a lot of that music and these different artists. The music is very simple, yet there are a lot of nuances and complexities you don’t even notice. Also, there are no filters — it is just pure emotion.”

To make sure she got the sonics just right, Shoshana called on longtime friend and producer Tim Kvasnosky, a producer who has been more or less obsessed with the Memphis blues sound since roughly 2004. Kvasnosky — who has conferred on equipment choices recording techniques with legendary Stax Recordings and Ardent Studios engineer Terry Manning — was initially reluctant to take on the project because he knew it would be all consuming and that he would need to match the sonic integrity of late sixties Memphis recordings without compromise.

“I wanted to make this record in an authentic way without using samples, and microphones were a big piece of the puzzle,” says Kvasnosky. After a shootout of no less than 12 vocal microphones, which included several U47 ‘rip offs,’ he settled on the Neumann TLM 67 large diaphragm microphone. “Right away, I could see how Shoshana reacted to the TLM 67,” he recalls. “We loved it, and the more we worked with it the more we realized it was giving the record a sonic footprint and character.”

O’Farrell Street was recorded in North Hollywood at Bright Street Recorders, which Kvasnosky says has a spectacular live room. The basic tracks were recorded just as they would have been in the ’60s: with the core band playing simultaneously, live to tape; strings, horns and vocals were added later. “We tried some unconventional techniques on the lead vocals,” observes Kvasnosky. “I didn’t want a super-present sound, so I kept Shoshana at least 18” from the mic at all times, and sometimes as far out as 3’. We spent a lot of time getting the sound of each take and therefore used very little reverb or processing in during the mixing process.”

From the beginning, it was very important to Shoshana to maintain authenticity throughout the project. “I was writing in this [late ’60s] style conceptually and lyrically, so we needed the right mics, the right equipment and the right room set up.” she says. “My voice sounds really warm throughout the album, and I credit that a lot to the microphone we used.”

Shoshana is very pleased with the outcome of O’Farrell Street, calling it ‘familiar and new all at the same time.’ Kvasnosky meanwhile, is elated at the sonics that were achieved, and says that the German microphone manufacturer is the most important microphone brand in recording history: “Neumann is the only microphone company that matters, especially when you are doing a legacy kind of recording like this.”