Born in Ireland and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Heather O’Neill is a modern day gypsy, having lived in 18 other locations before the age of 30. The experience enabled her to have a deeply insightful world-view, which naturally moved over into her music. Her latest tracks, ‘Lady Blue’, and ‘Transmute’, evince her style, which is a provocative blend of singer-songwriter blues, infused with elements of soul, rock, and folk.
Heather O’Neill is a relative newcomer to music, starting her recording in 2004, and since releasing two albums and one EP. Her style was initially influenced by the 90s punk femme ethos, but she came to settle into a style of stripped-back raw, acoustic songs. This sound was useful as she toured the Midwest USA, as well as gigs in LA, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. Enthusiastic press compared her sound to Erykah Badu, and Ani DiFranco.
‘Lady Blue’ is acoustic and laid back, reminiscent of Sandy Denny, and Eva Cassidy. The simple guitar instrumentation is more than enough background for O’Neill’s rich, strong voice. ‘Transmute’, the title track from her latest EP, is a stark contrast and draws much from her punk days. Electric guitar and drums combine with Heather’s voice to produce a Jefferson Airplane vibe. The striking vocals are nonetheless still in evidence, and the listener can barely resist swaying to the music.
Heather O’Neill is known for her live performances, where her fearless sense of humour and often controversial musings have brought to her a fanbase mostly comprising women, gay men, and enlightened straight guys. She is defiantly niche, and by staying in her lane has developed an ardent following.
Regarding ‘Transmute’, Heather says,
“It’s about realizing that certain behavior no longer feeds you, but struggling with the innate attraction to those dark aspects along the journey” Heather concedes. “Like Mercurius from Roman mythology, I try to ‘enjoy my time equally with both the good and the wicked.”