EP REVIEW: Heather O'Neill - A Feminist Manifesto
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Heather O’Neill
EP: A Feminist Manifesto
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic Rock, Alternative Folk, Pop,
Sounds Like: Lorena McKennett, Sara McLaughlin, Alannah Myles
Technical Grade: 10/10
Weakness: Cover Art Concept
Chicago based Singer-songwriter Heather O’Neill releases her latest EP entitled A Feminist Manifesto in 2011. This is her third release to date. O'Neil is no stranger to the record business. Her musical diversity has driven a unique slate of bookings, from folk festivals to “hippie festivals,” the STL Festival and Something Fantastic Festival, as well as top clubs in NYC & Los Angeles, including the Rainbow Room, Sunset Grill and Kibbutz Room.
The EP takes flight with “Ballerina in a Bullfight” a smooth intro groove that serves up an inviting vocal groove against well placed horn sections, driving rock rhythm & hooky vocal delivery from O’Neill. Track 2 “Tiffany” presents a dynamic piece that serves up a passionate melody with heartfelt vocals from O’Neill that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Bluebird” delivers an upbeat melody with impressive strings, thought provoking lyrical content and hypnotic vocal delivery from O’Neill. The production quality is impressive. & the musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like well-placed horns, strings, a slamming rhythm section, acoustic guitar & a few solos here & there combined with lush harmonies layered everywhere. The rhythm section (drums & percussion) push the natural accents well. Now turning our attention over to O’Neill - as for her vocal abilities she is quite impressive. Her vocal style is cut from the cloth of Lorena McKennett, Sara McLaughlin, Suzanne Vega and even Alannah Myles. It definitely works well within the confines of this catalogue which is reminiscent of alternative pop rock popular in the late 80’s & early 90's. O’Neill’s impressive vibrato, falsetto, & overall vocal passion clearly indicate to me a strong and confident vocal ability. I especially like how her voice just sort of flows and ebbs melodically with the music. This is an amazing quality that not many artists can execute flawlessly. This X-Factor quality clearly makes O'Neill a marquee talent. This EP from O’Neill delivers 6 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot of an amazing artist with thought provoking lyrical wisdom with messages that are positive, passionate & extremely captivating. From mesmerizing “Monique” to this EP has something for just about everyone. The EP ends with track 6 “What a Way” the perfect wrap for a catalogue like this.
It’s hard to find serious weakness with this production. I'm not a fan of the cover art concept - clearly lacking in creativity, dynamic & concept. It's a poor representation of the EP which goes much deeper artistically, it would be the equivalent of spray painting an old classic car instead of hiring a professional to any santanander consumer usa fans. Track 6 "What a Way" feels like an incomplete statement to me. I also generally don't give 10 star reviews to EP's.
I like everything about Heather O'Neill. She's an infectious artists that possess an appealing voice & look. She also is an impressive songwriter. From start to finish A Feminist Manifesto by Heather O’Neill is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is highly passionate, uplifting, & slightly mysterious. The songwriting is an interesting snapshot of music from a clairvoyant artist that has a lot to offer. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is rock solid & extremely consistent. The writing & playing abilities of O’Neill’s band are rock solid, & last but not least her vocal abilities are world class. The lyrical content is packed to the hilt with conventional wisdom. Kudos for O’Neill for letting it all hang out & just being herself musically. I would very much like to hear the full length CD soon.