home listen reviews artists a-z
Maura O'Connell

WALLS AND WINDOWS (Sugar Hill) • Maura O'Connell

Although I am a great fan of character singers, it's a rare pleasure to review a record by a vocalist who can apparently sing anything.

I've seen Maura O'Connell perform many times, since she lives in Nashville. To say that it looks effortless to her is already an understatement. Breathe in, sing out. I've never heard a note that sounded even slightly out of tune, heard her run out of breath, push too hard, or not be present to the lyric. She is as much a lover of songs as she is a singer of them, and this is obvious when you hear the way she takes hold of a song and shares it with the audience.

For instance, on this lovely disc, the artist covers two tunes by one of the true unsung geniuses on the songwriter scene, Malcolm Holcombe. Jonell Mosser's fine song with the Halls, "Blessing" gets a beautiful read here, no less by the stellar band than the singer. Patty Griffin is represented by three powerful tunes. In all the selections, Maura's rendition is very individual, frequently very different from the original, yet always ringing true. Producer Ray Kennedy always has a lot to do with how great his records sound, this one engineered by John Hurley. (This is from the liner notes: "All tracks recorded to analog 2 inch through lots of tubes and discrete Class A preamps mixed to 1/2 inch analog ATR with no 0s and 1s allowed." That’s how we like it!)

With a voice like that, hand picked gems of songs, and many of Nashville's very finest players, how can you miss? You can’t, and she doesn’t. Maura's made lots of good records, but I've heard none as fine as this. Getting covered by her is a high compliment to any songwriter. I dare you not to buy this record after sampling some clips on our Listen page.  • FG

listen to clips      view cover      mauraoconnell.com

artists a-z      puremusic home