Walls and Windows
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: Sugar Hill Records
Some singers merely sing, while others create music. Maura O'Connell is certainly among the later. Besides her commanding voice, O'Connell brings her musical intelligence to every song. O'Connell crafts and burnishes her phrasing till it seems utterly natural, effortless, and perfectly synchronized to the meaning of each song.
Her latest Sugar Hill release showcases material from a wide range of sources. Songs by Kim Richey, John
Prine, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Patty Griffith, and Ron Sexsmith populate her musical landscape. Aided by a core band of Darrell Scott, John Mock, and Ray Kennedy on acoustic guitars, Kenny Vaughan, and Doug Lancio on electric guitars, Dave Francis on bass guitar, John Jarvis on Hammond B3 organ, Fran Breen on drums, O'Connell is joined by Kim Richey, Tom Littlefield, Patty Griffin, Mary Ann Kennedy, Pam Rose, and Siobhan Maher-Kennedy on background vocals. Besides helping out on a variety of instruments, including low hand drum, tambourine, high-string guitar, and resonator guitar, producer Ray Kennedy envelops O'Connell in a natural and uncluttered sonic environment. Recorded and mixed at Room and Board in O'Connell's adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, Walls and Windows sounds rich and natural, without the overly antiseptic ambience that you hear on many Nashville-born releases.
I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite track on Walls and Windows since every time I listen to it I have the same thought after each song - "I like
best...." But when forced into a corner, I'd pick Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" for no other reason than O'Connell's sheer musical bravado for daring to cover Morrison's most famous and signature song, and her skill in making it her own. Maura O'Connell is such a formidable musical force, she gives the word "singer" new meaning. If you don't have
Walls and Windows in your CD collection you're denying yourself a rich musical experience.
Sound Quality: 90