A good primer for a Liverpool songwriter who combines message and music to great effect.
As the title suggests this is 10 songs drawn from the four earlier albums, looking back over 10 years from Liverpool songwriter Alan O’Hare’s Only Child. The songs have been remastered for this release by Paul Maher, who has also worked with U2.
Opening song ‘Only Child’ is a string led ballad, and highlights the quality of songwriting that is a long standing feature of O’Hare’s work. ‘Lookin’ for a Song’ follows a similar pattern with organ and underlying the picked acoustic guitar and softly sung vocal.
O’Hare’s music is rooted in Liverpool. ‘Scouse’ is a particularly effective song of praise for his hometown. It’s probably the best song here. Another with full band production, and the most “electric” song here is ‘William Ralph Dean’ about the footballer, also known as “Dixie Dean”, from the 1920s and 30s, whose career was spent mostly at Liverpool club, Everton. ‘North John Street‘ is the main road through what is now called “The Cavern Quarter” of the city, the heart of the musical legacy of Liverpool.
‘And the Band Played On’ starts with a reference to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, and examines the Highland clearances and abuses in Ireland and Brixton. O’Hare’s thought provoking lyrics are set to a hook filled tune that focuses the listener on his message. The last 2 songs, ‘Accidental Englishman’ and ‘Straight Lines’ follow the same pattern of words with a message over some excellent folk pop tunes. The evolution of Only Child into a full electric band is completed with the guitar and violin solo in ‘Straight Lines’
As an introduction to Only Child’s music this is a great collection, and should send those new to them back to the earlier albums.