James O'Malley: Eloquent Debut Album
James O'Malley is a boyish, 50-something songwriter in the midst of resuscitating a long dormant music career. Lucky for us. Once a member of the '70s folk-rock trio known as The Braid, O'Malley is a hugely talented lyricist and musician who writes with remarkable alacrity of life's foibles, triumphs and defeats without wallowing in self-pity. Neither does he bore us with cliches, overstatement or self aggrandizement.
Instead, the 14 original tunes on I'm Ready, his self-produced debut album on Gable Wing Records, are all well-crafted, hook-laden gems that demonstrate a penchant for songwriting at once original and insightful. In the self-penned liner notes O'Malley confesses: "I look upon it as a letter, long since written, but never mailed," adding "my hope is that the message be received with the love that is was sent."
"I'm Ready" showcases a gifted songwriter poised at the threshold of a loftier position in the ranks of American singer/songwriters. With this long-awaited debut CD, James O'Malley serves notice that he is more than a little ready to break through to a wider, national audience.
An O"Malley entree with a Side of Prine and Chapin
I had the opportunity to see Jim play a Wounded Warrior benefit show on Long Island recently. When I discovered he worked at the same place I do (along with a couple thousand other people), I'll admit to some trepidation. For some reason I tend to think of artists as 24/7 Head-In-The-Clouds dreamers, and the Jim I knew was not that guy. So I'm thinking "Ugh - "local" talent?? Well, it's a good cause and it's at a bar, so I'll make an appearance to be polite". Two hours after he hit the stage he was playing his third encore and we would have welcomed a few more!
Jim shares same storyteller gene that Harry Chapin and John Prine carry. The measure of their success can be taken from a skill at composing a song that can soften the cynical heart and then follow it with one so whimsical it leaves you wondering how the two songs could have come from the same mind. Watching listeners take in a song and drift off a bit ("Hey, he's writing that about me!") is the final component to a hit.
Meshing lyrics to melody seems to come to Jim in such a way that one can't help thinking that both were born at the same time. Listen to "Letting Go" here, or "The Night You Fell In Love" (Tales To Tell). Pretty much sums up the sensitive side of Jim. "If I Ain't Got The Blues By Now" and "Let's Get This Show On The Road" ((If Only In My Dreams) showcase the flip side of him.
I went through his catalog and picked a mishmash of both and ended up with about an album and a half of stuff I'm sure I'll be listening to for some time to come, and look forward to adding to it as he continues to share his talent.