Shelly O'Neill

Shelly O'Neill & the Big Way

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In 1995, Shelly O'Neill wasn't sitting around waiting to get signed by a major label. The obscure, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and her band the Big Way opted to be proactive, which meant releasing this self-titled debut album independently. The little-known CD didn't make O'Neill famous, but at least there was some recorded documentation of her singing. With a pop/rock approach that is somewhere between Carole King and Edie Brickell, O'Neill brings a certain sweetness and vulnerability to many of her songs. That isn't to say that she comes across as a fragile, delicate waif -- something that the singer/songwriter field had plenty of in the 1990s. O'Neill's tunes aren't without grit; nonetheless, the sweetness and vulnerability are definitely there. And for the most part, they serve her well. This self-titled release isn't as consistent as it could have been, but O'Neill's most memorable songs -- which include "God Knows," "All in the Name of Love," and the soul-tinged "Above and Beyond" -- indicate that she is well worth keeping an eye on. With the right record deal and the right guidance from a savvy A&R person, it is quite possible that she would have become better known in the 1990s. That, of course, is only speculation. What we can say for certain is that this CD is a generally enjoyable, if imperfect, document of the singer/songwriter.

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