Sunday, 19 October, 2008 1:47 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: Todd
by Johnny Chauvin
recording artist Todd O'Neill
2008 CMA Close Up News Service
There's more than one
way to break into Country Music. But Todd O'Neill may be the first
to seize his moment by doing the "Napoleon Dynamite" dance
at a club in his hometown of Hammond, La.
Mac Barrient, who was
playing guitar with the band that night, took this as a sign of
sorts and invited the young man up to sing a tune. O'Neill, who
had never been onstage before, grabbed the mic, nailed Travis Tritt's
"Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)" and sealed
his fate. The band welcomed him as its lead singer, complete with
top billing at their shows.
His debut album,
Real Life, emanates the energy O'Neill mustered at those roadhouse
gigs. There's some Nashville sweetening too, which he might have
picked up during a visit to Music City in 2003 - just long enough
to pack some songwriting polish when he went back home.
Produced by Jim Allison
and released on Aria Records Nashville, Real Life stirs accordion
into "Cajun Queen," sprinkles Southern-fried harmonized
guitar into "Drinkin' a Cold One" and showcases O'Neill's
deft writing chops on six of its 11 tracks, including the introspective
single, "Can I Come Over Tonight," co-written with Brett
Harrington with its unusual segues between 4/4 and waltz times.
His voice is pleasing
and melodic, a little husky and touched by old-school soul. Yet
for all its diversity, Real Life is all about Country and
showcases one of its promising new arrivals.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
"As a kid, I always looked up to Brooks & Dunn."
"Merle Haggard, James Taylor, Otis Redding, Keith Urban and
SONG YOU'D SECRETLY
LIKE TO COVER
"'These Arms of Mine,' by Otis Redding."
CD IN YOUR STEREO
"Jake Owen's CD."
DREAM DUET PARTNER
WHAT YOU SING IN
"Every time I get in there - and this is not a joke, I'm serious
- 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.'"
SOMETHING WE'D NEVER
GUESS ABOUT YOU
"My manager says I'm a pig."
PHRASE YOU SAY OVER
AND OVER AGAIN
"I got this."
MODE OF TRANSPORTATION
ACTOR TO PORTRAY
YOU IN A BIOPIC ABOUT YOUR LIFE
MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE
WOULD YOU RELIVE IF YOU COULD
"The last motorcycle ride I had with my dad. He got in a motorcycle
accident and if I could relive that moment and know what I know
today, I would prevent the accident."
"I have a bracelet that I wear everyday as my lucky charm."
TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
"Two Wheels and Six Strings."
WHEN THEY LOOK BACK
ON YOUR LIFE IN 50 YEARS, WHAT YOU HOPE PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU
"Man he was such a nice guy."
ITEMS YOU'D PUT IN
YOUR PERSONAL TIME CAPSULE, FOR FUTURE ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES
"Early demos, tape recordings, a guitar tuner and an extra
set of strings."
WHAT YOU'D BE IF
YOU WEREN'T AN ARTIST
"A motorcycle stunt man."
FAVORITE FOOD WHILE
ON THE ROAD
On the Web: www.toddoneillonline.com
is Detroit's exclusive media outlet for this syndicated weekly column!