Album Review: Todd O’ Keefe Gives Light To “Uptown”

Good has always been an ambiguous term. What makes something good is often confused with easy. Yet, Todd O’ Keefe Uptown explains why good and easy are often intertwined. His record falls upon your mind with a briskness that reminds you why people enjoy smoother paths. The irony is that his lyrics are dedicated to the more complicated ones. 

When you sing about the mundane choices we make to heal inner pain “Laughing Class For The Idle Class” or have a few tracks dedicated to the loves that leave our life “I Hate To See You Go” and “The Day She Said Goodbye”, in thought, it may not seem like conversation-starters. Yet, that is the thing about music; it helps us have the conversations that we feel we cannot speak. Music gives us a platform of clarity and lightness that opens people up to hear/display their inner selves even if it means showing darker things they would hide such as, their loneliness and the actions you commit just to scrape by. In that sense, “Highwayman” and “Misty’s Always Late” leaps out as tracks that show why music gives people the courage to confront tragedy for what it is: tragic. No loneliness or survival tricks may not seem “tragic” at first sight, but they certainly feel and can lead up to it. Thus, the marvel of Todd O’ Keefe’s Uptown is that it is so simple for how profound it can make you feel.

Profoundness does not need to be some huge, climactic moment, as shown by Uptown. O’Keefe has literally created a moment in time with just a harmonica, guitar, his voice, and words. This may not seem like too much, but to create a MOMENT is not easy, especially one that seems so effortless. Yet, for the 28 minutes that Uptown plays you are having a instance where you meet the characters, woes, and wonders of O’Keefe as he sees if “She’s Upstairs”, thinks of his beginnings in “My Hometown, or proclaims verses like “The Man On The Mountain”. Throughout all these things you follow O’keefe because in not having many things to follow, what you he uses to guide you feels like much. Just hearing the harmonica and guitar pair like two lovers arranging future dreams is lovely. Then, you add Todd O’ Keefe’s voice and you realize that the most powerful magic comes in simple spells. O’Keefe has a voice that can cast an image like a blanket over you: warmly and instantly. You let yourself go under his poetic lyrics out of both curiosity and care for the worlds he is building. Moreover, his voice sounds like Michael Stipe’s tone mixed with Bob Dylan’s playfulness. O’ Keefe can turn his words and voice like folk legends, which is a gift for man with a desire to become one.

O’Keefe approached writing and recording Uptown with a stripped down and back to basics approach, akin to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska or Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.  The songwriting is a mix of Brill Building pop and the Great American Songbook with songs that he felt
“had to stand up without any overdubs or embellishments of any kind Each chord and lyric had to have a purpose for being there. I didn’t allow myself the luxury of sweetening things up with harmonies or electric guitars or whatever.  I didn’t want anything to get in the way of the basic song as it was written.”  His motivation was pure, and came through in making an album that shows music, by nature, does not need a lot to become more to its listeners. For More Information on Todd O’Keefe And To Buy Uptown Click Here.