There are recordings that accomplish the purpose of entertaining. There are those that serve to tell. Deep is the Well by Kevin O’Donnell accomplishes both of these aspects. The album reads like a biographical book as it explores the lives of Irish immigrants to the United States. Those who are fascinated by Irish history and the American Antebellum period will take this album close to heart as any jewels uncovered from the treasure chest.
The album starts with A Letter Home . The spoken letter takes us back to the sentiments of someone sending a message to those close to the heart more than a century ago. There is something poignant and also I sometimes feel the hair on my skin stand as I realize that that the owner has been dead a long time ago. To uncover these intimate details about another person’s life long after he or she is dead is such a fascinating thing.
Factory Girl is the promotional single which is available online. It’s a story of Mary Helen Dougherty (1879-1918)
Born a blue-collar daughter in an old river town,
where the slow-rolling water from the prairie run down
the bend of the river is the edge of her world,
there’s no place it seems for the modest of dreams of a Factory Girl…
Makes you want to find out more right? There are more vibrant lives through the liner notes of Deep is the Well.
The rest of the album play like old pages with the breath of freshness. Something like old pages smelling of tobacco, dust and the lives exposed to it. The music is lush, vibrant but unhurried. It is a story teller’s album. The intention is to tell you something with the accompaniment of music. The spotlight is on the lyrics, although the musical depth and richness are always present. Cellos, viola, acoustic guitar, dobro and other beautiful sounds embellish this album.
Kevin O’Donnell has a resonant and expressive voice that can appeal to any genre. The production is crisp, clear and bright. Appreciation also goes to the album packaging. That cover artwork is a piece of eye candy.
Inspiration (at least the great ones) always comes from something deep. Something that’s steeped in history and the passionate lives led by people who handed out their legacy to us through books and songs. This is what I found in Deep is the Well. It’s an album that’s focused on something that is lasting. It speaks of feelings across time, and the wisdom comes with age and experiences.
Do you recall how older relatives tell us how life was harder and how they struggled to make ends meet. I realize how everything comes easy now, in this age of instant gratification. How we get spoiled and would like everything to happen when we want it. They struggled and fought just to get us where we are now. It isn’t hard to acknowledge all the sweat and blood that paved way for something like a generation of the free. It’s the very sentiment that’s found in Deep is the Well. Just acknowledging and not forgetting , I think is enough for those who came before us.
I recommend this album to people who are fond of history and ballads. You will get so much out of Deep is the Well, not just musically but something to feel your soul.
Singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and published author: these are the distinctive hallmarks of Kevin O’Donnell’s public career. He is affectionately called “uncle tunes” among his family and close circle of musician friends, and is more broadly recognized in Chicago music circles as the founder and front man for the Irish-American folk group Arranmore.
Kevin’s commercial success as a songwriter dates back to the 1986 release of Island Home. He has frequently been compared to such writers as Gordon Lightfoot, Cheryl Wheeler, and Bill Staines. Americana and folk artists have recorded his early works and his historically based compositions have been featured in television documentaries both in the USA and Ireland. Under Kevin’s leadership and direction Arranmore attained musical success in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Kevin traded concert stages for theatrical stages in 2000, performing with the prestigious Racine Theatre Guild, playing leading roles in several plays including Twelve Angry Men, The Sensuous Senator, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Flowers for Algernon, and Neil Simon’s, I Ought To Be In Pictures.
– Baxter Labatos, CelticMusicFan