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CD REVIEW: Dan O Mara - Whispering Loud & Clear
By Cyrus Rhodes - 11/08/2010 - 10:18 PM EST

Artist: Dan O Mara
Album: Whispering Loud & Clear
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic folk/pop
Sounds Like: Neil Young, Kingston Trio
Technical Grade: 4/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 5/10
Commercial Value: 3/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 5/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Canyons, In a Dream, Paradise Now
Weakness: Amateurish mix. instrumental overload, Kareoke-ish type vocal delivery, marketability
CD Review: Acoustic singer/songwriter Dan O Mara releases his latest CD entitled Whispering Loud & Clear in 2010. Band line up includes roughly 14 session players. O Mara hails from Agora HillsCalifornia.

Logging in at just over 38 minutes, the CD kicks things off with “Wait for 39” a slow moving intro piece that serves up steady folksy-type rhythms accompanied by inviting instrumentation layered everywhere. Track 2 “Searching for a Smile” keeps things moving in the right direction with impressive slide guitar accents, slow driving rhythm & well placed vocal harmonies from O Mara. Track 3 “Canyons” delivers a compelling vocal delivery from O Mara with nice solo guitar accents & earthy type musical feel. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice a lot of musical variety from O Mara & Co. Many songs possess a very carefree & uplifting spirit while a few offer up a very honest assessment of life itself. The CD offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, & lush layers of instrumentation. I would classify this music as classic Acoustic Folk & Americana with a strong emphasis on folksy-type instrumentation. Besides the standard 4 piece delivery you will also notice impressive splashes of Mandolin, Pedal Steel, Accordion, Fiddle, Dobro & impressive solo guitar accents layered within the music. All in all the CD has some truly impressive musical moments on it showcasing influences such as Neil Young, Kingston Trio, & perhaps a dash of Jackson Browne. Honorable mentions go out to all the amazing session players recruited for this project – an amazing arsenal of players with some amazing chops. From striking “Canyons” to passionate “Sounded Good” to powerful “Paradise Now” to cryptic “Time “Begins Again” & “In a Dream” to upbeat The Road” this CD has something for just about everyone.     

It’s safe to say O Mara doesn’t possess the greatest Baritone in the world. Though he does manage to keep his head barely above water on a few songs, some of the harmonies need to be tightened up a bit & don’t even sound accurate with respect to the overall pitch. It’s fair to say O Mara doesn’t take any serious vocal risks on the CD thus failing to make the critical (singer to listener) vocal connection on many songs. Overall vocal delivery seems extremely lukewarm & almost Kareoke-ish in nature. Many songs due to their repetitive nature tend to drag you across the finish line. The overall production clarity with respect to some of the mixing sounds extremely amateurish with disproportionate instrument levels across the board. The end result is many instruments fighting for equal space within the sonic space – sounding extremely jumbled. Perhaps too much instruments are being used simultaneously on many songs. I also wish the drums & vocals stood out more within the mix. The bar is set high for mixers like O Mara who attempt to mix his music himself. Unfortunately guys like O Mara get in over their head as the year is 2010 & the bar is set really high for artists like O Mara with respect to modern-day mixing techniques. Mixing will always be the make or break of any production, regardless of how good the songs,  the playing, the recording, & the mastering is. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but it’s fair to say all of the above effects the CD’s overall marketability. If this review seems lopsided it merely reflects the extremes presented on Whispering Loud & Clear.

In closing, Whispering Loud & Clear is a consistent & compelling musical production from start to finish. Again the strong suit is the arsenal of session players O Mara brings to the table – over 14. The musicianship is first rate, the songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Whispering Loud & Clear clearly shows O Mara’s has potential as an artist. It’s also safe to say his best work is yet to come – so having said that I look forward to hearing more Dan O Mara in the near future.     

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