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For those yet to be introduced, Jessica O’Donoghue is a wayward opera singer who found herself constrained by the historically imposed limits of her practice. Carving a similar path to Australian songstress Kate Miller-Heidke, O’Donoghue felt the need to break free from those restraints, and that she has.
Riding on the extreme vocal training she received in the world she left behind, the budding songwriter has found her new voice in a dreamy pop realm. Emerge is the culmination of that work, a six-piece EP which soars far beyond the stratosphere.
Revelling in her raw and righteous vocal power, Jessica O’Donoghue dances above an alternative pop backdrop with the ease of a true artisan.
Emerge opens with Parachute, breaking apart the floodgates for O’Donoghue’s unconventional and experimental vocals. Lyrically engaging and brimming with originality, her vocals may be jarring to some yet boast a raw honesty which you can’t condemn.
Second track Not Alone has a bit more synthesis, easing a score of interesting vocal layers into the mix above more abstract instrumentation. A definite trend is forming, centred around O’Donoghue’s Kimbra-esque, performative power.
Stay With Me is haunting and engaging, tapping into a slightly fantastical and Gaelic sound. Whilst lyrically sparse, the track is a great palette cleanser and certainly deserving of experimentally-inclined praise.
Opening with fast running piano, Run Away is filled with more lyrical clarity than the EP achieves previously, boasting a strong narrative and deliciously lilting vocals.
Hurt You Too takes on a life of its own, the tempo is up and the jazz is flying! A happy note to end the record on, lyrically engaging and with distinct structure.
Overall a hard-fought passion shines through Emerge. It’s a strong, eclectic and bold debut release from Jessica O’Donoghue, an artist with serious promise.
You can catch Jessica O’Donoghue live over the following month, hitting a string of dates down the east coast. Head here for details.
June 29 – Oxford Art Factory Gallery, Sydney
July 2 – The Junk Bar, Brisbane
July 8 – Wesley Anne, Northcote