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Album Review: O’Shea – The Famine & The Feast

2 min read

The Australian country music duo O’Shea, consisting of husband and wife combo Mark and Jay O’Shea, is getting ready for the release of its third album ahead of next year’s Tamworth country music festival.

O'SHEA - 'The Famine and The Feast'The Famine & The Feast has the Nashville-based duo mixing it up between buoyant, lively offerings and sentimental ballads.

Parade is a hybrid of country, pop and New Orleans jazz. Despite the cheesy brass and cliched lyrics (‘shake what your mama gave you’), the hooks are irresistible and further enhanced by Jay’s yearning, penetrating vocals. Bad Day Good featuring the smooth harmonies and licks of Grammy-award-winning American country singer Steve Wariner carries an urgency that makes it an easy choice for lead single.

Listeners surely should feel connected to the album’s more personal tracks, which lay bare Jay’s personal life out in the open. On the post-breakup, ominously-titled ode to vindication Sorry I Was Right, Jay’s pure voice expresses fragility and defiance. The brightly arranged, personal Family Is Everything hints at Jay’s recent role as a mother. The Truth Walks Slowly (In the Countryside) is especially poignant. Written by Jay’s birth father Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst (who only reunited with Jay four years ago after Jay’s birth mother gave her up for adoption), this splendid composition is the goosebumps-inducing, emotional highpoint on the album. Jay’s twang and soothing coo manage to complement Hirst’s raspy voice and oppressive, spooky harmonies towards the end, which emphasise the mournful tone of this beauty.

The journey of romance is apparent on the show-stopping Here I Am, which conjures a high speed joyride in the countryside with its mandolins and sparkling harmonies. Hooky penultimate track Just Love is an ideal track to slowly wake up to in the aftermath of a drunken rage, with its effortlessly gliding chorus, pensive piano, banjos and an intense bridge that triumphs.

Right Where You Left It is a rockier track that showcases the duo’s knack for a repetition-driven, catchy chorus. Mark also shows his guitar prowess on the steady piano ballad One Sure Thing, which unfortunately remains middle of the road even after with sweeping strings. Have That Again also doesn’t have quite the impact to effectively close the album.

O’Shea’s upcoming release has some quality songs and performances, with the Nashville vibe permeating the album in its arrangements and beating heart.