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Album Review

Beginning with the soft keyboard-led strains of "Green Street," showcasing her steady, understated singing style nicely enough, Underground finds Marykate O'Neil delivering an album that doesn't entirely living up its name — the feeling is less of something subterranean than of a newly revived urban hub around a recent light-transit stop, with at least one coffee place that is quite happily not a Starbucks. But this is no criticism, just an observation — O'Neil's fourth full album, Underground's a sometimes wry and sometimes warm (and often both, as the excellent "Saved" demonstrates in particular) collection of songs about live and love in a gentle, attractive vein. O'Neil and a core supporting duo on both songwriting and performing — Jill Sobule and Ken Maiuri — create, along with the support of various other performers, a number of excellent confections throughout Underground. The rich arrangement on "Nashville," with O'Neil and Sobule's voices plus some lovely guitar work on their parts, sounds like it should be on some radio station somewhere right this second, while the slow building glow of "Me, the Bee and the Miner" is at once the album's most understated song and perhaps its most successful, an embrace of near silence to excellent effect. Meanwhile, a stellar choice of a cover song — Joe Jackson's "It's Different for Girls" — gives everyone the chance to deliver, with a performance both rollicking and, with its concluding harmonies, beautifully serene as well. Often the best lines throughout the album are delivered with a perfect straightforwardness — thus on "One Thousand Times a Day," there are great bits about taking sick days and walking through familiar book shops, while on "Easy to Believe at First" when the song first hits its chorus and everything shifts from minor to major keys, it's delightful to hear O'Neil sunnily sing, with just the right pause at the right place, "Everything is going to be much better...when you go away."


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Marykate O'Neil was born and raised in New England, where she spent many hours in front of the television developing her obsession with pop culture. She was the singer/songwriter for Piewackit, a Boston band that managed to score a deal with IRS Records before a move to California wrecked the band after the release of its debut. O'Neil moved to New York City and started writing songs again,...
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Underground, Marykate O'Neil
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