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My Song: Jackie Bristow – Without You

My Song: Jackie Bristow – Without You

Born in Gore , Kiwi country singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow is nowadays Nashville-based, but currently weathering the Covid storm back here in Queenstown among family. Jackie is preparing for the release of a new album called ‘Outsider’, giving an early taster to its quality sound with new single Without You, out today via her American label Mesa Bluemoon Recordings. NZM asked the down-to-earth artist to run us through the remarkable genesis of the song, which includes a stellar lineup of renowned international session musicians.

Without You is a simple and sweet love song inspired by falling in love with my boyfriend Andrejs. It was one of those songs that just popped out when I was on tour in California. It was very easy to write. The song has been around for a little while now, so getting it to the studio in Nashville was awesome.

The recording was sparked by a Nashville Saturday night jam with friends. When I sang the song my good friend Rick Price said he would love to produce a recording of it for me. Rick has been a Sony artist, he was a big pop star in Australia in the ’90s and now lives in Nashville, producing and working with some incredible artists and musicians. I was excited that the tune sparked Rick’s enthusiasm since I’ve been a fan of his talent for a long time. We got together the next week and started work on it.

We didn’t demo the track as I just make songs to release. There is no budget these days – but I think it’s a positive thing. In many ways, I like this much more, as you have a fresh take, and you don’t end up with demo love and trying to get back to that place when you felt the excitement for the song!

Rick and I really wanted to capture the pop element in the song but also wanted to keep it raw and natural. We listened to a few tracks of some artists we loved and chose the musicians who could achieve that.

It was exciting to have Dan Dugmore play pedal steel and get such a gorgeous country sound. Dan is a real legend and played on early James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt hits. He’s played on so many hit songs and I love the colour he added with the pedal steel solo and the banjo also, so fresh and open and happy.

I wanted Without You to have an uplifting feeling and to share joy and the happiness I felt when I wrote the song. It can be a fine line achieving a natural sound while also wanting the track to be commercial enough to be played on radio. I feel like the end result was a success and we captured what we were hoping to achieve.

Rick had access to some very hip musicians in Nashville who played on the track. And the string arrangement courtesy of Nashville dream team, producer Rick Price and orchestrator Kristin Wilkinson, and played beautifully by an all-star cast of Nashville’s hippest studio musos – including Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood), Dan Dugmore (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt) and Kristen Wilkinson (Chris Stapleton, Neil Young, John Prine).

It was so exciting to have a real string section on this song and a real honour to have Kristen Wilkinson arranging the strings with Rick. I was buzzing the day they laid down the strings at the studio – these are the kind of musical moments you live for!

We had a couple of obstacles with Covid hitting and I didn’t get back to Nashville to finish Without You in person. But, thank goodness for technology, I had all my vocals done. We had a couple of mixing dilemmas and worked on the final mix for quite a while. Sometimes you get so close that you hear everything so intensely, but ultimately we all agreed and went with the mix by Mark Punch who has also produced and mixed the rest of the upcoming album.

This song feels like it’s right in the middle of my catalogue. It’s leaning more towards my earlier albums with some pop sensibilities, however, it is very much a folk/country singer-songwriter vibe also.

The chorus line is really resonating with me right now ‘…the world I know would lose its colour without you.’ I have been separated from my sweetheart for over a year due to Covid and immigration issues. So long-distance love… is not easy!

I’m so happy with the track and grateful to have my song produced with such an incredible lineup of world-class players playing on my little love song. A very happy outcome for me.

The dream team on Without You:

  • produced by Rick Price
  • mixed by Mark Punch
  • mastered by Ryan Smith, Sterling Sound
  • drums & percussion – Fred Eltringham
  • bass – Steve Mackey
  • pedal steel & banjo – Dan Dugmore
  • electric & acoustic guitars & BVs – Rick Price
  • engineering – Rick Price & Gena Johnson
  • string arrangements  – Rick Price & Kristen Wilkinson
  • violins – Alicia Enstrom, David Davidson
  • viola – Kristin Wilkinson
  • cello – Sari Reist