Television's Golden Age

P.J. O'Connor

Rank Stranger, 2020

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The New York native and multi-instrumentalist P.J. O'Connor has an impressive past, as he played in The Bogmen and Radio 4 in the '90s and also toured and did studio work for Gordan Gano of Violent Femmes. On this first solo record, O'Connor takes help from some excellent musicians, including Parker Kindred (Jeff Buckley), Brad Truax (Interpol), and Leslie Mendelson (Jackson Browne), among many others, who help shape this diverse and very New York-minded effort.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

O'Connor starts the listen with the Celtic, folk influenced “Summer Squall,” where his smooth vocals guide the mandolin and banjo-friendly opener. “Your Vision” follows with some tuneful grit as Billy Ryan and Anthony Rizzo (of Garden Variety fame) contribute inviting guitar work. “Indecisive Mood” continues with Mendelson's pipes and strings contributing to the soulful, diverse delivery that would make David Byrne smile. “You Burned Your Name,” the best tune from side one, then has O'Connor duetting with Little Embers on the intimate and atypical brand of Americana that takes nods to country music while still being firmly planted in the aesthetics of city life.

Side two is equally thoughtful and includes the percussively strong “Television's Golden Age,” where O'Connor handles acoustic guitar and synth from Brendan Ryan illuminates the textured, lively environment. “Wreckage,” the standout from this portion of the record, then flows with plenty of melody as bass, guitar, acoustic guitar, and 12-string guitar from Tom Licameli help cultivate plenty of warm strumming. The album exits on “Stop To Smell,” where strategic violin from Alex Marcus blends in quite well on the cautious, pretty finish that's adventurous enough to recruit samples and strings, and, most importantly, plenty of heartfelt songcraft.

While you don't often see debut albums by musicians at age 50, O'Connor has had his plate full the last few decades playing the supporting role. Now that he's front and center, he's doing a great job of captivating us with his sincere and timeless songwriting.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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