One day at the beach, recently, I found a copy of this excellent Jeen O’Brien record in a little shop, sitting all alone and looking for a good home. Of course, I’m just the kind of guy to rescue such a gem. I’m completely glad that I did – this album is great.
I wrote here, not too long ago, about O’Brien’s EP, Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, and everything I said then still applies now. The only thing that makes things different this time around, other than this being a full album’s worth of delicious tracks instead of a (shorter) EP’s worth, of course, is the involvement of the completely amazing Hawksley Workman as producer (and musician, on guitars, piano and –interestingly enough – a broom). Hawksley’s brilliant sense of what the music needs marries perfectly to O’Brien’s frighteningly keen songwriting style, resulting in a record that deserves to never leave your player. Ever.
There’s something personal about her writing that isn’t to be found just anywhere. Listening to this, one really gets the sense that she’s not bullshitting you. At all. And she’s not just tossing off lines because they fit the song, or rhyme or whatever, either. This feels real, a voice of experience and truth.
Mark my words, Dear Readers. In a few years’ time, when Jeen O’Brien is hugely famous everywhere (and not just in this country), you can say you read it here at the KMA first – she rocks. She’s great. You’ll want to learn every word to every song. I promise.
01 Sing This Song
02 Did It Again
03 Side By Side
04 Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
05 Only You
06 Lay The Blame
07 Against The Grain
08 Guilty As Gold
09 Your Life
11 Like A Child
Have you ever found yourself bin-diving in record shops, filing past all of the stuff of which you’ve never heard with fingers that move increasingly faster, only to come across a record that surprises you with its presence? You hesitate for a moment, you may even have to file back to it because you’ve flipped well past it in your quick perusals. And when you confirm what you’ve found with your own two eyes, you look furtively around your immediate vicinity, to make sure no one else is going to reach in and steal it from you before you can grab it for yourself. You turn it over and over in your hands, as though you need a few seconds to comprehend the treasure you’ve found.
That’s what happened to me yesterday when I found this Jeen O’Brien release in a sale bin in Toronto. Frankly, it should have been priced much, much higher than what I paid for it, but by immediately offering it a good home I believe that I have realigned the universe and purged the Idiot Demons who put this in the bin where it so obviously doesn’t belong.
The title of this record is so incredibly apt. All of the songs here are beautiful, poignant and strong. O’Brien’s voice effortlessly ranges from confident to plaintive to soaring, and the musical arrangements offer the perfect vehicle for these displays of prowess. Think Holly McNarland and Alanis Morissette, or any other comparison you might want to name, sure. But then forget all of that, too, because she’s got her own (very valuable) thing going on that seperates her from other artists. And more importantly, as the strength of this release becomes obvious, just think. She expects nothing less. Try to keep up, kids. There’ll be a test later.
01 Back To The Street
02 Goodbye Glory
03 Sailing By Me
04 Sing This Song
05 American Dream
06 Mama [with bonus hidden track]