Maureen O’Brien – Journey and Table Manners
CD review by Tony Smith -TN 2540-90 – $20 & TN2541-91 – $15
Newcastle singer-songwriter Maureen O’Brien is currently in a very productive phase.
She has a busy schedule of concerts ahead and a couple of albums recently released.
Journey has ten tracks.
Six of those tracks are Maureen O’Brien originals.
Three are tributes to great female blues singers, ‘I’d Rather Be Blind’, ‘Woman Be Wise’ and ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business’ made popular by Bessie Smith, Rosa Henderson and Etta James.
These classics are accompanied by keyboard and harmonica.
The final cover, ‘The Wexford Carol’, is a traditional Irish Christmas carol usually sung unaccompanied, but arranged here with fine vocal harmonies.
The six originals have blues themes.
‘I’ll Drink to That’ has some fine dobro and harmonica.
Maureen drinks to a variety of girls.
‘2 A.M.’ is a wistful piece featuring keyboard and more harmonica.
‘Parenthood’ has some catchy guitar riffs.
‘It’ll Be Alright’ has Latin influences, upbeat guitar and good vocal harmony.
It is not hard to imagine people happily dancing to ‘Precious Cargo’.
‘The Dating Game’ has a finger-snapping, bass accompaniment, think ‘Fever’.
For this album, Maureen thanks musicians Gary Roberts, Russ Redford and Robbie Long, who also sound engineered.
‘Life is sweeter with friends’ she comments.
Maureen also notes that ‘Life is a journey not a destination.
‘There are many paths to choose.
‘The choice is yours.
‘Enjoy the view’.
Table Manners contains more O’Brien original songs.
These are performed by Maureen sitting at the piano.
Originally a stage musical, the show was also developed into a novel, not to be confused with the stage comedy of the same name by British playwright, Alan Ayckbourn.
There are some quietly musing pieces such as ‘Guests at the Table’, ‘Saturday Morning’, ‘Nothing Like a Husband’ and ‘Who am I?’.
‘One of These Days’ provides an upbeat contrast.
‘Alzheimer’s Tango’ might be regarded as a rather brave piece but the rhythm is fine.
‘Deep Waters’ and ‘Lover’s Duet’ lead toward the honky-tonk feeling of ‘Mean Mother’, and ‘Long Journey’ has O’Brien singing huskily in a lower register.
Generally, these tunes make a comfortable fit with the lyrics which all evoke the kinds of whimsical thoughts that should inspire any songwriter.
The quirky humour in these songs is reminiscent of a Cole Porter or a Noel Coward approach.
The words to the songs are accessible rather than flashy and make for pleasant listening.
Maureen O’Brien has good etiquette and would provide sweet entertainment during or after any dinner party.
The Table Manners album is a soundtrack for the stage production of the same name, written, directed and produced by Maureen O’Brien. It has 10 tracks, all original, written by her specifically for the show. From audience response, the idea of turning the script into a novel became a reality and was published in 2020 by UK publisher Pegasus P/L. Some of the tracks can be heard on her Music and Comedy YouTube channel/s
Contemporary singer/songwriter and touring performer, Maureen writes from the heart and sings it with passion. An interpretive vocalist, she has a rich, mellow vocal sound and selects material that best suits her vocal style. An evolving songwriter, her current work is a distinctive fusion of Jazz-Folk-Rock.
Maureen has performed in a variety of groups and duos as well as being an accomplished solo performer. Her performances occur in a wide variety of entertainment experiences such as:
- Tastings on the Terrace (Sunday afternoons in the vineyards).
- Wine and food festivals.
- Music festivals.
- Restaurants, cocktail functions, ‘lounge bar’ music, restaurants, dinner/theatre shows.
- Dedicated concerts and Charity events/functions
- Parties and boutique music sessions.
Live performances with her support bands are dynamic. She likes to give her musicians ‘room to breathe’ so every performance reflects a freedom to explore different approaches to selected material. The line-ups vary as she selects musicians from an extensive pool of talent to suit individual gigs. Her solo performances are described as ‘warm and intimate’.
As a songwriter Maureen writes from the heart and interprets from the soul. She has written and performed Classic Blues and Jazz, Folk-Rock, Jazz-Rock and Contemporary Folk and Blues genres. She has been a multi-finalist in the 1233 ABC Radio Newcastle Music Awards and her second album, Many Shades of Blue, was awarded the prestigious Trad&Now Magazine’s Best CD of 2006 in the Blues and Roots genre. Her third album, Luminous, and fourth album, Ebb & Flow, received regular airplay throughout community stations across Australia via selection by AMRAP for Album of the Month awards. Tracks from Luminous have also been selected for airplay oversees.
She has recorded single and EP projects for fundraising events, and written and recorded Musical Scores for Theatre works.
Maureen has been writing and performing for more than a decade and is a fully-fledged writer member of the industry association, Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA).
As a full time musician and creative artiste, Maureen’s performance biography is too extensive to list here. The fact that she is repeatedly invited back to perform at regular and annual events substantiates her establishment as a high quality entertainer. If you are considering engaging her services, contact her direct for testimonials