The opening track, Don’t Come Easy, starts strong with a powerful beat and an instant introduction to O’Neill’s soaring vocals. There’s no disguising her earnest, heartfelt delivery and why would you want to if you could sing like that? The song is lyrically strong too: “always five steps forward, six steps back/but the good things in life don’t come easy.” Setting the standard right there on track one.
The instrumentation in Let’s Make One Up is more gentle but the vocals are just as robust. The song is about a broken relationship on the brink of rekindling following a chance meeting in a bar. The attempt to drink the lover away backfired spectacularly: “you walk in eyes all on me/and god knows you’re the last thing I need/oh, here we go.”
Ghost Of You was the lead single and it’s clear why! It’s the one that urges you to singalong; the chorus is catchy as hell. Despite seeming upbeat, it deals with loss in a nuanced way: “there’s a part of me that would rather be haunted by you than to let you go/somewhere I hope you know that I’m living with the ghost of you.”
The instrumentation in Don’t Say It’s Over is minimal, really foregrounding that powerful voice and the emotion in the delivery: “don’t let out those words on your mind/I could change them if you give me time/I’d rather just fight/don’t say its over.”
So far, the album has been about desperately trying to save problematic relationships. Bottle is about the opposite – a toxic relationship with no sign of an end. O’Neill sings from the point of view of an alcoholic. It’s deftly observed and cut with a sense of tragic inevitability: “I told myself last night was the last time/I don’t need help I just need a clear mind/call me a cab I’m going home/I got a plan, leave me alone/Oh, oh, oh the bottle won’t let me go.” Blast from the past alert: the song was co-written with James Walsh of Starsailor.
Thank feck, finally a functional relationship! Why I Need you is not all sunshine and rainbows though, and all the more real and touching for it: “the way you put your arms around me/kiss my tears when I need to cry/you make me feel there is nothing I can’t do” O’Neill’s piano skill comes to the fore in this slow, heartfelt number.
Treadin’ Water is a return to a rocky relationship but with a dance beat and nifty guitar work to mask the lingering sense of uncertainty. We never learn if they’re drowning or waving. It’s tailor-made for Megan O’Neill’s full band live performance, and recently she’s been giving it another interpretation with a solo piano version. More of this, please and thank you.
Tell You To Leave keeps the tempo up and is feisty as anything. After putting up with a LOT over the course of this record, it’s gratifying to hear O’Neill sing “just get here and get here quick so I can tell you to leave…this story ends through a broken lens/baby, we ain’t lovers and we sure as hell ain’t friends.” Yass, girl! Great song.
Next up is yet another upbeat song. Surely something’s wrong? Good Love seems suspiciously positive so quite a relief to find out that everything is a disaster after all! “You know that it’s you I need/ but you keep me in the dark/this isn’t how I want to be/chasing you while my heart bleeds.”
Real talk, Without is a stunning song. If the album were just Without 12 times in a row, that would be fine. Truly incredible writing: “We all have one/the one who hurts, the one who scars, the one who shows you who you are/but I’m still young/and thanks to you and all these tears I’m so much wiser than my years.” It’s catchy and she sings like a badass angel. Megan O’Neill is the best, case closed.
The album ends with two songs co-written with The Dunwells, giving us a taster for O’Neill’s next record that they’re working on together.
You’d better buy Ghost of You now so you can recover from the emotional rollercoaster just in time for the next one! It’s an incredibly rich and and relatable record, well worth a listen, followed by many more listens.
Ghost Of You by Megan O’Neill is out now. It went straight to Number 1 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart. Be like those people and support independent music.
While you’ve got your credit card out, pop over to pledgemusic.com/projects/megan-oneill to help fund the next record and in return choose from amazing rewards including handwritten lyrics, a songwriting lesson and even a song written especially for you! One of the options is all three of her albums to date plus a t-shirt if you need to catch up!
Follow me for more album and live music reviews and photos!