By Conor O’Neill
County Down songsmith Brigid O’Neill first came to my attention way back in 2017 with Touchstone. Six years on and her growth is remarkable. Her 2017 offer was good enough, I remember reviewing it for another publication and praising the songcraft and her soulful voice. Six years on and it’s more of the same… but this time she’s only gone and recorded in music city, AKA Nashville, Tennessee. Under the guidance of Nashville legend Neilson Hubbard this LP reaches new heights.
Add his magic to O’Neill’s evolution as a songwriter and The Truth & Other Stories is a stand-out recording. Live A Little Lie Oh was the obvious debut single and has deservedly being doing the rounds on turntables across Northern Ireland. But hang your coat up, relax with a cuppa coffee or a shot or two of Bourbon with ice slowly melting, and let these 11 tunes wash over you.
Track two Easy is perfect for a Sunday morning with the papers covering the bed and no plans needed or wanted. O’Neill’s sultry voice and storytelling is all that’s required. That sultry voice reaches its peak with the jazz influenced track eight Midweek Magic Club. Here’s she’s at the top of her range and it’s difficult not to stop what you’re doing and simply dig the music, storytelling and the intrigue of some place you’ll never visit in Minnesota but never have to: you feel like you know the place inside-out by the end of the song.
In this album you’ll notice the subtle change between the first person and the third person view. All is revealed in the LP’s notes. O’Neill recognises the hardship that was/is the pandemic, my truth, your truth, her truth. There’s a sense of displacement with this album. Pilot’s Weather – the song I’ve repeated more than any other – is the perfect example of this. Thematically it’s about trusting others and relying on your own instincts, as paradoxically as that may seem. Everyone will have a favourite tune from this album. Some might pick the Patsy Cline-ish Messy Path, others may choose the bombastic You’re Not Gonna Leave Me honey, some might opt for the classic Ask Me In A Year.
It’s hard to find a filler track on this LP. It stands alone. It’s not a concept album. Just a simple collection of 11 smashing country, blues, jazz influenced tunes, recorded by the best in the business with a woman lucky enough to be born with a songwriter’s view of the world and a voice to match and even exceed that talent.
10 out of 10 from me.
Brigid O’Neill’s The Truth & Other Stories is available from Band Camp on digital and vinyl.
Go buy it, you’ll not regret it.
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