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Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars (Bonus Tracks)

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Album Review

Is she a folksinger with a rock aesthetic or a rock singer with folk leanings? It's hard to tell on Jennifer O'Connor's album Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars. The title is certainly folky, but O'Connor doesn't always stick to the "girl with a guitar" formula that might push it firmly into that genre. There are usually a bass and drum kit backing her up, as well as an electric guitar (though it's played more like an acoustic, with picked and lightly strummed chords), and while O'Connor does like pretty melodies, she stays away from the super-earthy major-key ones that dominate much of folk, choosing something closer to what Liz Phair, rather than Patty Griffin, might do. Her songs are all about love in one of its — usually dysfunctional — forms, speaking in the first person to an unnamed second person (the exception being "Sister," in which the title character is addressed), ranging from the apology in "I Was So Wrong" to the heartache in "Dirty City Blues" to the sweet, sentimental "Tonight We Ride." The latter, which employs a quiet simplicity to convey its message, has a familiar, comforting sound, like something that might have been sung around campfires of years past, but pieces like "Exeter, Rhode Island" and "B******t Maze," full of power chords and choruses made for bio-diesel car-singing, clearly show O'Connor's debt to the rock stars who came before her. Though the constant theme of broken and mended hearts can get rather predictable, her lyrics and voice are unaffected and straightforward, making everything on Over the Mountain seem honest and accessible and kind of fun, too. Which means that being able to classify O'Connor isn't really that important; what's more important is her music, and that, with its very human subject matter, speaks for itself.

Customer Reviews

The Best Album Of The Year!

This is by far the best record I have heard this year. Ms. O Connor seems to have the extraordinary gift of creating songs that are deeply personal without the slightest hint of pretention. I have been listening to this non stop since I bought it. Check it.

Touching, heartbreaking, brilliant

This is one of the most honest and thoughtful records of the year. Musically, it definitely draws on Elliott Smith, Cat Power and other emotional singer-songwriter types, but the simplicity of Jennifer's lyrics and the instantly catchy melodies makes it really its own thing. She's one to watch--it will be very interesting to see what she does next.

Beautiful

Tonight we ride is beautiful. This album is a nice soundtrack for my life right now.

Biography

Born: Connecticut

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Born in a small town in Connecticut, singer/songwriter Jennifer O'Connor (who moved with her family to Florida right before she started high school) was always interested in music. However, she didn't take her first stab at songwriting until 1996, after she had finished college in Atlanta and joined a local band named Violet. The budding musician moved to New York City three years later and decided to pursue a solo career, pitching her weary vocals atop a synthesis of confessional folk-pop and indie...
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Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars (Bonus Tracks), Jennifer O'Connor
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