Wow, thanks for the feedback! I very much appreciate the compliment and even moreso the valid criticisms. I submitted it a little while ago, although it hasn't made it to the judge's panel yet (anybody know how long this usually takes?), but I mostly just posted here to get immediate feedback from more experienced folks, so the above feedback is absolutely perfect.
I agree the production as a whole feels quite flat, it feels like it lacks the space that a good mix (like the Joshua Morse example) should have, almost exactly like it's playing through a defective woofer in someone's 2003 Honda Civic. I think I went pretty heavy on the reverb and drum compression, but maybe it could use a little more master compression or just a tiny bit morecompression on the piano/bass/pads to tighten things up? I think my best guess is I overdid it on the EQ as well. As you said, it lacks bass and clarity, which might be because I went a bit to heavy on cutting the low end of the master, and probably cut too many high-mids during individual mixdown :/ If anybody else has a more accurate theory please chime in, but for more recent mixes I've been trying to be more careful about master FX. I mix with a garbage pair of headphones and then have to check the bass on my car stereo to get an accurate sound, so using slightly better headphones might help me hear the low end better. More stereo staging is a great idea as well, I'll definitely make an effort to be more aware of that in the future. I think the clarity issue might be addressed if I utilize the low and high ends more during EQ, rather than condensing everything into the mid-range where it ends up sounding cluttered and flat. I think my individual track EQ has too many cuts toward the lows and high mids, mostly because I want to make room for the bass and leads, but it's easy to see how it ends up being overdone.
I probably won't be able to do an edit at this point, partly bc it's already submitted, and also bc I have a personal policy of not going back to old tracks (I get sidetracked and spend WAY too much time being a perfectionist) But thank you for all the Really's (I counted 8 in total!) and I'm glad you liked it, I'm gonna work on those criticisms for the next mix