“We have a track count of 316”: The Logic Pro project for Jacob Collier’s acapella version of Bridge Over Troubled Water is a thing of wonder

Even a cursory listen to Jacob Collier’s new acapella version of Bridge Over Troubled Water should make it clear that there’s ‘a lot going on’, and this has now been confirmed by Collier in a breakdown of the track’s finished Logic Pro session.

To be honest, ‘acapella’ feels like a bit of a misnomer here. Yes, the arrangement of the song was created exclusively with the human voice, but when Collier opens up the session and reveals that “we have a track count of 316’, it becomes apparent that this has more in common with an orchestral piece than a barber shop one.

That said, Collier reckons that the number of tracks in play is “quite chill by my standards,” reasoning that it’s “not too much at all - quite reasonable. It’s all relative, we suppose.

This version of Bridge Over Troubled Water will appear on Collier’s new album, Djesse Volume 4 (set for release on 1 March), and a lot of not-particularly-troubled water has passed under the bridge to bring it to fruition. It’s based on a truncated performance of the song that Yebba uploaded to YouTube some years ago - just a one minute snippet that was captured on a phone. Collier discovered this in 2021 and, having taken it to his heart, decided to create multiple layers of vocal harmony over the top of it when he was at a loose end.

Fortunately, this happened to be when he had a spare day in Chris Martin’s studio, with access to the Coldplay frontman’s Neumann U 47 microphone. He went on to upload his augmented version of the song to YouTube, too, and it became something of a fan favourite.

Fast forward to the making of Djesse Vol 4, and Collier decided that he wanted something “Jacobian and acapella” for the album, and hit on the idea of developing the track further. A lot further, it turns out, because he managed to enlist both John Legend and Tori Kelly to flesh out the song with the missing lead vocals.

Collier confirms that he did try and get Yebba involved, too, but that she felt nervous about revisiting the song and so politely declined. Her original vocal remains, though, cleaned up using an AI-powered Adobe tool - Enhance Speech, we’re guessing - and used to open the arrangement.

The video above sees Collier taking a forensic dive into the Logic session, explaining some of his harmonic choices and revealing that he used multiple takes of Legend’s vocals and considers Tori Kelly to be “the best singer in the world”. 

There’s certainly a lot to get through - not just 316 tracks but 2781 regions - so the video runs to almost a couple of hours. And if you think that’s long, just think how much time it must have taken to put it all together.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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