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James O'Malley - Tales to Tell

Tales to Tell

James O'Malley

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com)

Tales to Tellcommences with the bouncily happy Is That the Sun, a great piece of folk-rockin' positivity establishing the tone of the entire CD. Song for Pete Seeger continues it immediately, and you soon discover that O'Malley sings in a David Wilcoxy fashion, perhaps with a faint Dave Loggins trace and a good deal more than a shade of Paul Simon (Open Window even sounds distantly Donovan-ish), though with a touch of whispery gravel that works very well in the following take, Dylan's Just like a Woman, where the backing band shines in equal part.

Every cut here is of the same spirit, inevitably imbued with smiles, even when they're wistful alongside a catchy hey-we're-all-human overriding sensibility. Some are as funny as the others are touching, Hell Hath no Fury being not about women but the infernal despairs of parking problems in the average American city (something I believe even Satan has commented negatively upon). O'Malley's playing and composing bring a whole new dimension to the word 'pleasant'. Ya can't help but feel good just listening to his stuff, it can't be avoided, there isn't an ounce of doom or existential despair to be found, just honest insights and contemplations. Even in Wrecking Ball, about unwise choices in love, responsibility is taken by the narrator for his part of the mistaken pas de deux.

O'Malley plays guitar in great filigreed fingerpicked style while Joe Porcelli, who co-produces this gem, doubles up on the strings deliciously, Dave Schenaeur plying keyboards in complementary measure, his piano particularly fetching. Cheryl Prashker taps a gentle set of drums that soulmate the writer's soft approach as John Porcelli takes his time in setting the rest of the rhythm function, never rushed, grooved into the laidback atmosphere. And, sigh!, I coulda used more of Corrin Huddleston's harmonica, which fills spaces nicely but cries out for a few solos. No matter, though, as this is a really nice CD. In other reviews, that might seem a bit pejorative, but O'Malley occupies a position rare to any genre of the musical arts and embodies the term so fully that no other will quite do.

Appropriately, a buddy stopped by as I was writing this review, sat down, listened through, and remarked "Maaaaaan! That's really nice!", so there you are: scientific proof.

Track List:

  • Is That the Sun
  • Song for Pete Seeger
  • Just Like a Woman
  • There was a Girl
  • Wrecking Ball
  • Hell Hath no Fury
  • Gotta Get on with my Life
  • Allen Jones
  • Open a Window
  • Crickets
  • Give a Broken Heart a Break
  • The Night You fell in Love
All songs written by James O'Malley except Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan).

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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