O'Donnell - Scratching The Surface
by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic
If the extent of your knowledge of vocalist, Erin O'Donnell is measured
by what you've heard on her debut project, A Scrapbook Of Sorts,
you've only been Scratching The Surface which, perhaps not-so-coincidentally,
is the title of her recent sophomore release.
the strings-laced, Verve-esque opening track, "All Of This,"
it is quite evident that both Erin O'Donnell and her silent partner,
songwriter and husband, Brad O'Donnell have pulled out all of the
stops to follow up on their successful 1996 Scrapbook project.
new release, Scratching The Surface, highlights very much
the same vocalist, however the entire project is more integrated
than her previous release. The recording seems to be more lush and
dynamic as well which is perhaps a result of selecting an atypical
Christian music producer (jazz producer, Alain Mallet) and taking
the recording outside of Nashville.
husband, Brad O'Donnell continues to be the primary songwriter and
Erin O'Donnell definitely benefits from having her songs "custom"
written for her. The songs on this project, while ranging in musical
diversity, seems to possess a common theme that runs throughout
the project. Evident in such songs as "Crazy" (which was co-written
by both O'Donnells), "Twisted" and "Come Find Me," the themes of
past regrets and drifting away from God permeate throughout with
the usual happy endings thrown in for good measure.
tracks cover other issues but do not stray far from the theme. "At
Least For Now" is a picture of married life and, ultimately, the
kind of compromise required to keep a marriage working. The project's
final track, "When I Grow Old" is a tender question that every spouse
probably asks at some point and makes for a very gentle finale to
smooth, confident vocals pleasingly waft through every track with
a warmth and sincerity that must be borne from her husband's intimate
knowledge of the messages that his wife wants or needs to impart.
from the ample lyrical content on Scratching The Surface,
O'Donnell's sophomore release is replete with interesting textures
and effects that set the songs apart from each other. The title
track utilizes quietly mixed, whispering effects on O'Donnell's
vocals in the verses, "Crazy" throws in a little wah-wah at the
end to give it an otherworldly feel, "Wide Open" starts out with
a reverse-gated drum track , "Twisted" relies on Strawberry Fields-esque
keyboards swimming throughout the chorus and "Every Word You Say"
starts out with acoustic guitar and a country-ish steel guitar,
reminding one of something by Susan Ashton rather than O'Donnell's
usual pop fare.
of Amy Grant and another husband-wife team, Out Of The
Grey, will be pleased with this album. And if you play it as
often as I do, you just might end up Scratching The Surface
of the poor little CD itself.