Maura O’Connell is considered by many in the music business to be a singer’s singer. The native of Ireland has lived in Nashville for more than a decade. However if one were to try to determine the place she should call home, it would have to be her voice.
And whatever she sings she takes the listener home, leading to those familiar places in the heart where we connect to family, loved ones, childhood, old age, stumbles, dances, memories, dreams, and the will to live and give for love’s sake.
The Definitive Voice
In the liner notes of her recent project, Naked With Friends, Maura expresses her greatest desire for those who hear this a cappella project that has been more than a few years in the birthing and delivery process.
“I hope this record will free a lot of voices from the notion that they must be accompanied, or that one must be on a stage to be a singer,” she said. “The joy of singing for its own sake is what makes you a singer.”
Just reading her liner notes will encourage every single one of you to believe in the beauty and power of your unique voice. But listening to this amazing vocal project will also make you want to sing because of all the heart cannot contain and the spirit longs to share.
The First Cut Is The Neatest
With the first cut, The Bright Blue Rose, written by Jimmy McCarthy, Maura uses her voice to call the soul both prayerfully and practically in ways that defy explanation. It is a prime example of pure, uncomplicated, communication. Escorted by the harmony vocals of Dolly Parton and Kate Rusby the song truly uplifts the spirit in ways superbly supernatural. Then, the gritty and gracious choir, The Settles Connection with the amazing Odessa Settles, kicks in to bring heaven home to the heart with stirring soulful supper time sounds. This first song alone makes the project a must-have for anyone who longs to sing for the sake of sharing their voice.
The project features a number of delightful duet vocals. Americana artist Tim O’Brien seamlessly complements Maura on The Blacksmith, Darrell Scott delivers a hauntingly hammering presence on Shipbuilding. Paul Brady takes us across a choppy Irish Sea in the wake of his stirring vocals on Anach Cuain. The ever angelic Alison Krauss provides echoes of simply sweet breath support on Some People’s Lives.
Included in the inspired roster of songs is Joan Armatrading’s Weakness In Me, a song that Maura would often sing a cappella in her early days of local folk clubs and Irish coffee houses.
The Tradition of Singing
For many years unaccompanied pieces have been a staple of Maura O’Connell’s live venue performances. She finds it troubling that singing is all too often not viewed as a skill or art all by itself.
Something she learned in the process of bringing this project to life is that many times a song does not necessarily lend itself to a cappella renderings in the studio. So, a number of songs that she enjoyed singing in that fashion had to be passed up for others that translated better.
The result is a collection of 13 pieces that are as uniquely moving as the voice that carries it and the individual that drinks it all in.
As you listen you’ll become believer that Maura O’Connell truly is a singer’s singer as she so effortlessly flows like a river from English rivers and Gaelic streams to a soul deep ocean of sweet perfection.
Visit www.mauraoconnell.com for more information.