Saturday, June 02, 2012

If you like Colbie Caillat, thank Fleetwood Mac

Okay, admittedly this one is a little too easy. Colbie Caillat is, of course, the daughter of famed music producer Ken Caillat, who gave some of Fleetwood Mac's best albums (including Tusk, Mirage and multi-platinum-selling Rumours) their distinctive warm-California tone. So it should be no surprise that Colbie harnesses the same likeable, breezy melodies as Fleetwood Mac, and adopts their focus on intimate relationships combined with the appealingly maximalist production tone that defined that megagroup of 1970s folk-rock. According to Fleetwood Mac fansite

[Ken Caillat's]  knowledge about how to get sounds recorded made Caillat an integral part of the team behind the mixing desk during those recordings. Lindsey Buckingham remembers the recording of "Go Your Own Way": "I really think Ken Caillat did a great job of getting the sound that solo needed. It defined an approach for years to come." 

Buckingham was right in more ways than he intended: Caillat's distinctive production is a very successful approach that he is still putting to good use in the 2000s by producing all three of daughter Colbie's albums to date. Perhaps nowhere is his method more recognizable than in her song, "Falling for You:"

There are the warm, jangly, multiple-tracked acoustic guitars. There are the soft vocal harmonies. It's a pleasant, familiar, appealingly vintage sound. But then, when you get toward the end of the song, he drops in a signature riff, the one that sounds like birds flitting around the corners of the sonic landscape. You hear it after the bridge, when the vocals sing, "I can't stop thinking 'bout it, I want you all around me, and now I just can't hide it." Hear the subtle, dancing riff that's laid down over that? Does it sound familiar?

That's because Caillat and Buckingham first used it on Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks-penned "Gypsy" from 1983's Mirage:


Still the warm, jangly tone. An even richer spectrum of background harmonies. And at the very end of the song, you'll hear a synthesizer riff that should sound very familiar.

So remember, if you like Colbie Caillat, thank Fleetwood Mac, and their consistently successful producer Ken Caillat.

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