Eamon O'Tuama,
Behind Every Life
(self-produced, 2001)

Irish-born singer-songwriter Eamon O'Tuama's Behind Every Life is an interesting collection of songs, existing on the shared border between folk, Celtic, rock and pop music. He and his talented band of musicians have created a melodic musical journey that is consistently pleasing to the ear. O'Tuama sings and plays acoustic guitar and fills in his sound with John Vignone (electric guitar, keyboards), Carolyn Dutton (violin), Donna Bender (bass, harmony vocals) and Chris Duignan (drums).

The record was recorded in New York City, and O'Tuama's songwriting bears the mark of the city in the people and places he describes. The opening track, "More Fortunate," begins the record on a high note, as both a rock song and a symphonic experience. Dutton's violin weaves through the heavy drums and electric guitar, reminding me of the Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony." He continues with "Bloom Again," an acoustic guitar-based tale of a hopeful girl in the city. A similar theme shows up in "One Great Love," again full of beautiful violin accompaniment. "A Better Plan" is a pretty acoustic guitar song of ache and lost love. I really like "Cradled Ways" -- mostly for the picture it paints as he looks at someone and understands her as she can't understand herself. O'Tuama closes the record with "Poor Baby," a sad song about pity and looking at life through proverbial rose-coloured glasses.

As the album goes on, it reminds me more and more of David Gray's White Ladder, although O'Tuama has a unique expression in his songwriting. He has an odd way of writing, in disjointed sentences and parts of stories. These are the kinds of songs that take at least a few listens to really make sense, the kind that you may only ever understand if you happen to find yourself in the same situation he was in when he wrote them.

This is a good record -- it even has moments of true greatness -- but it's as if they were chasing a feeling they never quite reached. I can't help but feel a little let down at the end of it all, as if there was potential that was not explored, dark corners of greatness never brightened by sunlight. But those dark corners are there, waiting to be revealed.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]
Rambles: 3 August 2002

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