Jennifer O'Connor – Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars
Acquired: Love Garden Blowout Location, Used, 2009
This record is REALLY GOOD. I reviewed O'Connor's latest record for KJ and thought it was surprisingly good. Surprisingly because during my tenure at music staff I had a penchant for reviewing female singer-songwriters (which there are many of, maybe as many as there are men) and they almost always sounded the same (as did the male singer-songwriters). But every once and a while you get a Mirah or a Tender Forever or a Cat Power (whom most of these singer-songwriters sound like). Jennifer O'Connor has something special though, and it's veiled behind something that seems incredibly normal. Her skill lies in her exquisite yet subtle melodies and her songwriting, which is top notch. She waffles between folk and rock and it works incredibly well. Check the delicately finger-picked and totally sad “Today” back to back with the awesomely titled and jangly “Bullshit Maze.” Rad dudes like Britt Daniel and James McNew show up here and there, which is cool. There seems to be a history of the rock chick in here, with debts to Liz Phair (before selling out, natch) with influences ranging from Elliott Smith to Mazzy Star, along with the Dylan influence that every singer-songwriter bears (see: the acoustic Dylan-esque strum of “I'll Bring You Home”. She's at her best on the folky acoustic numbers, such as “Today,” “Tonight We Ride,” and “I Was So Wrong.” Those kill. “I Was So Wrong” reaches right down into my heart and starts punching it. It punches my heart and it makes my heart HURT! And I'm listening to this song as I'm watching the wind blow leaves from the orange and yellow trees. It's all quite poetic, really. Great record!