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Ben O'Neill

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When Philadelphia songwriter-guitarist, Ben O’Neill, took the stage at Jay-Z’s Made In America Fest in September 2012, his resume as a sideman was ripe with some of the best known names in hip-hop, pop and gospel music: Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, Kid Cudi, Christina Aguilera and Tye Tribbett. In addition to receiving a 2010 Grammy nomination, his televised appearances have included Letterman, Leno, Conan, Ellen Degeneres and Jimmy Kimmel. With the release of Ghost and Green Shoots, O’Neill comes front-andcenter with a melodically rich and tunefully diverse effort that displays his talents as a gifted guitarist and a fearless vocalist. Opening track, Remind Me To Forget, arrives with an urgent display of guitar feedback, giving way to O’Neill’s soaring, falsetto harmonies. A rhythmic stick and jab and sandpapered refrain depict the anguished aftermath of a failed relationship. In its most introspective moments, such as Eve, his debut calls to mind the compositional intensity of Bon Iver and Paul Simon. This Song is a contemplative search for redemption, lush with arpeggiated guitar and organ swells, complemented by a shimmering, Nashville-inspired solo. The haunting rendering of New Year’s Eve brings the album to a cathartic close.

 

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