Artist: Todd O?Keefe
In his debut solo album, Uptown, Todd O?Keefe keeps it simple with a guitar, a harmonica, and his voice, but that doesn’t mean this album lacks in substance. The bare bones aspect of it leaves us with no distractions and lets us focus on the strong vocals of O?Keefe. O?Keefe has recorded with great artists such as Jeff Beck, Ray Davies, and Elvis Costello. But he is not just a session musician, and, though a key member of The 88 and The Green and Yellow TV, O?Keefe gives us a rare treat with this solo album.
Uptown starts with one of my personal favourites on the album “The Man On The Mountain”. This song’s bridge is so catchy, not only does O?Keefe sing it but he plays it beautifully on harmonica. The next few songs, such as “My Hometown” and “The Day She Said Goodbye”, may have a sorrowful message, but O?Keefe blows them out of the water with his strong folk voice. With a change of pace “Laughing Gas For The Idle Class” hits you immediately with an energetic guitar sound backed up by his soulful harmonica. This song, which stands out from the rest with its fast tempo and spirited vocals, creates an interesting crescendo effect on the album, starting soft, moving to a more energetic feel, and then coming back down again. Closing the album with “She’s Upstairs”, O?Keefe leaves us with a comical lyrical scheme, playing with tongue twisters and befuddling story-telling that leaves a smile on your face. This album sounds like a mix between Bob Dylan’s music and The Beatle’s vocals.
O?Keefe has had a long and storied history in the music industry. After recording their self-titled album, The 88 had the chance to tour with Ray Davis. This eventually brought them to The Royal Albert Hall in London, England. After this O?Keefe and The 88 had the opportunity to record at the world famous Konk studios in Tottenham. The list of musicians that O?Keefe has toured with is a long one, from The Smashing Pumpkins to The B-52’s and even recording songs for T.V. and video games, O?Keefe is no rookie in the music world. For a musician with such an illustrious past it is hard to believe that this is his first foray into a solo career, but he has definitely succeeded in leaving his mark.
While he doesn’t usually play shows outside of California, but if you get a chance you can find his tour schedule on his website. Uptown is available through O’Keefe’s website as well as iTunes, and for streaming on Spotify. I strongly encourage you to pick up this album and share in the raw passion that Todd O?Keefe brings to his first solo venture.
Drew Kolohon is an avid music fan who is finishing up his bachelors degree in English.