Don't I Know

Maura O'Connell

Sugar Hill Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/23/2004

After seven lines of the list of credits for the album, the last line reads, "All these fine people, and many others, were involved in making me find these great songs." And, this is true. Don't I Know is an album of songs written by other people -- Maura simply sings them -- and, the choice of songs is excellent.

Don't I Know is an album of 'pop-song' nature. It has a heavy underbelly of folk, with producer Jerry Douglas playing the lap steel guitar on literally every song. It also has great words, not to mention very fine singing. The appealing words sung out, stand clearly from the supporting music, and this runs consistently throughout the album -- those people in the seven lines of the list of credits have indeed gone through a lot of hard work to search for words and bring them to Laura's lips.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The most beautiful of them all, "Trip Around The Sun" -- the album starter and a subtly philosophical birthday song -- has the chorus saying, "I'm just hanging on while this ol' world keeps spinning…if there's one thing I've learned from all this living; it's that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go," and a deep, as well as simplistic closing line, "Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun…till it's done."

As a aching lover, Maura sings, "And life's so hard; it's the little things that seem to be saving me today; and I am doing what I can not to be getting down; and I am going down in flames" on "Going Down In Flames," and on "Up And Flying," sings, "I should be free to leave the ground; with no dreams left to weigh me down…The one I loved loves someone new."

Maura's baritone-ish vocals sound like a mother sheltering the tender words that she brings to life with her most appropriate rendition of them, as if they were her very own. Her warm vocals, and the simple but nicely assembled musical arrangements, complete with acoustic and lapsteel guitars and keys, make Don't I Know a very feel-good record.

Don't I Know makes a nice companion when one is driving through the countryside where everything is calm and serene, and the wind is sweet and pure. It is uncomplicated, but nicely produced. It does bridge pop music and folk music, and has a 'country' feel to it, too. It is for everyone who likes deep lyrical content and non-glamorous thoughtful pop music mixed with folk music.

Rating: B-

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