Robert O’Connor is yet another singer/songwriter, but he doesn’t have a guitar, or ambitions of Sheeran-style mass-appeal like many of his contemporaries.
“When you ask someone what they think of an artist’s music, and they say ‘he seems like a lovely fella’, I think you’ve failed. We would never say that about Morrissey! We might say ‘he’s a miserable sod but bloody hell he’s some songwriter’, right? That’s what I want”.
O’Connor returned to the music scene in 2018 after a five-year hiatus, and having dealt with major labels, dodgy deals and shady A&R men, he decided that if he was going to release new material, he was going to take the wheel and answer to no-one about the direction he’d go in, or which route he’d take to get there.
“I knew I wanted to make classic records that were country at heart, and had a timelessness to them”, O’Connor explains. He took to the studio with former collaborator Steve Hogan, who introduced him to multi-instrumentalist and producer Stuart Gray, who headed-up the project. “It was the right fit at the right time – after five years out of the game it needed to be a team that I was comfortable with”.
Within a matter of days, the three-man team had produced two singles at Gray’s Jealoustown Studios in rural County Meath, Ireland. “Afterwards I took a three day holiday in Barcelona, and then I came back and did nothing but hustle for the next three months”, O'Connor says.
The hustle paid off – Robert’s comeback single “You Found Me” landed on radio playlists across Ireland, the UK, Germany, France, Holland, Canada and the US, where its streaming figures have been highest. The reviews came flooding in: Essentially Pop called the track, inspired by the likes of REM and Fleetwood Mac, “Stunning”, while Reyt Good Magazine said it was “A great pop song with solid instrumentation and a powerful chorus”.
“No Second Chances”, the second song produced in those sessions at Jealoustown, was actually written four years ago. Speaking about his songwriting technique, O’Connor is dismissive of his talent, “I recorded a voice note into my iPhone one night, and I found it recently and it’s basically the same as the finished version melodically and lyrically”.
He jokes, “For me, songwriting is like a dodgy broadband connection I have with the creative Gods, sometimes it works beautifully and you don’t know where this fully formed song came from, and sometimes it waivers and you’re left with a random verse that’ll drive you nuts!”
When he wrote “No Second Chances”, which delves further into the country genre hinted at in “You Found Me”, O’Connor feared it would only ever be heard in his own mind. “I always thought in the back of my mind ‘I’ll come back and release this song one day, but for a long time it was as if I couldn’t find my way back, but now here I am, with a new lease on life, and I think...maybe there are such things as second chances!”
"No Second Chances" is released August 17, 2018.