Artist Spotlight

Review: Michael ONeill, “I Like It Like That”

No Comments 7 September 2014

Review: Michael ONeill, “I Like It Like That”

I Like It Like That is a complete album, it doesn’t lack in any capacity in entertainment value; there’s emotional gravity, moments of cutting loose, love, loss, seduction and heartbreak. In short, there’s something for everyone here wrapped up in a relatable country rock package that’s wildly appealing and more than endearing.”

Artist: Michael ONeill

Album: I Like It Like That

Genre: Country Rock / Americana

RIYL: Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, John Hiatt

Michael ONeill I Like It Like That

Singer/songwriter Michael ONeill has an impressive musical pedigree. And some pretty deep roots to reflect that pedigree in Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin and Seattle. A few fun facts: he has toured with musicians as diverse as U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Little Feat, among others; he’s written songs with Steve Cropper (Book T and The MG’s), Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) and Jason Scheff (Chicago); the release of I Like It Like That marks his fifth independent record.

Now that we have that established, let’s talk about what all this means for ONeill’s newest recording. As the first lyrics roll off his tongue on “Raise a Glass,” it’s clear we’re dealing with a veteran performer. In fact, this first track sets the tone for a rollicking blend of rock, country, folk, soul/blues and Americana that manifests itself in different ways throughout the record. ONeill has a strong grasp on who he is and where his formidable talents lie. And where that comes off the strongest could be argued in two different ways: his direct, vulnerable vocal presence turns out in full force on a ballad like “Love Laid Bare” and then pulls equal weight on a more rockin’ party number like “Real Deal.” Both tracks are fine examples of ONeill’s versatility as a writer and performer.

The title track also happens to be one of the strongest and most memorable on the record. It’s another classic country rock track in the vein of “Real Deal,” capitalizing on a fast women and cold whiskey frolic. In fact, there is also a great secondary take on “Real Deal” that acts as a bonus track, featuring a mean fiddle that just adds a little something extra to an already strong melody and performance. “Let It Rain” and “Feel Her Heart Break” provide great contrast to lighter fare with vocal performances that show great restraint and vulnerability. It shows off ONeill’s strengths as a balladeer, and again draws on a wealth of writing and performance experience. This is how you piece together a record that feels both cohesive and versatile.

There’s a fantastic quote in his bio from the NY Times that declares Michael ONeill’s music “carries a country/funk groove that sounds like someone rode a horse through a Motown studio.” What an accurate and wonderfully succinct statement to sum up the experience of listening to this music for the first time. I Like It Like That is a complete album, it doesn’t lack in any capacity in entertainment value; there’s emotional gravity, moments of cutting loose, love, loss, seduction and heartbreak. In short, there’s something for everyone here wrapped up in a relatable country rock package that’s wildly appealing and more than endearing.


Michael O’Neill website: http://michaeloneillmusic.com/

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