Edward O’Connell – Our Little Secret

January 01, 1970

(Oaf Ramp)




This DC-area poster wears his musical influences on his
sleeve. Literally: the front cover of Our
Little Secret
is a loving homage to Nick Lowe’s Jesus Of Cool, while the rear is a recreation of Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes. (See the
illustration, below.) Visual iconography aside, an “influence” is only as good
as how well you incorporate and, ultimately, transcend it, and O’Connell is
more than up to the task.


Certainly, the Lowe/Dave Edmunds/Rockpile axis of cleverly
wrought, immaculately produced twang is on display here, on tracks like “I
Heard It Go” (a terrific midtempo jangler not that far removed from “Girls
Talk” – which of course was originally penned by Elvis Costello, to whom
O’Connell can also be favorably compared, particular in the vocal department)
and “With This Ring” (an infectious raveup boasting a subtly insistent
rockabilly undercurrent). And a sunny, strummy Petty vibe comes through a
number of times as well, notably on “Cold Dark World” and “Acres of Diamonds”
that both hint at vintage Heartbreakers arrangements.


But as other powerpop images flit past, from Byrds and Big
Star to Marshall Crenshaw and – get this – Richard X. Heyman (who we recently
at BLURT), the picture of  O’Connell as simply a well-schooled and
-rounded muso comes fully into view. Artists who traffic in this genre are
hardly limiting their approaches; for that matter, powerpop is far broader in
scope than its detractors would ever admit. No, the whole thing is to be in
service to the song, which means crafting memorable melodies, hummable
harmonies, deftly-defined guitar hooks and textural niceties – piano and organ
fills, percussion nuances, etc. – that keep the listener wrapped in the
proverbial sonic cocoon for 3 ½ minutes. That’s all the time you need for a
journey to nirvana, after all, and Edward O’Connell proves himself to be the
most gifted of tour guides.


Incidentally, O’Connell is the brother of another pop perfectionist, P.J. O’Connell, who was recently reviewed here. Something’s in that gene pool, no lie…


Heard It Go,” “Acres of Diamonds,” “I Want to Kiss You” FRED MILLS


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