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O’Connell & Love

Twitter: @oconnellandlove

O’Connell & Love is the latest incarnation of Larry Love (Alabama 3) and his long-time songwriting partner Brendan O'Connell.  They perform as a 6-piece band playing songs from past albums and showcasing new material from their forthcoming third album.

O’Connell & Love is a great festival band, and recent appearances include Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Lewes Live and Merthyr Rising.

Their 2015 album, Minesweeping, was well received by critics and fans alike, and was voted Album of the Year by music journalist Sean Hannam, who described it as "one of the most eclectic and richly rewarding albums of recent times... it’s like rifling through a record collection of classic rock and roll, folk, blues, country and soul".

Their first album, Ghost Flight, released under the name of Robert Love in 2006, was credited by Kris Kristofferson as “one of the best debuts I've ever heard.”


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released July 2015
on Mountmellick Music

Minesweeping is the debut album by O'Connell and Love, a collaboration between Larry Love (lead singer, Alabama 3) and long-time songwriting partner Brendan O'Connell, who co-wrote much of Larry's first solo album, Ghost Flight, released under the name of Robert Love in 2006. Kris Kristofferson credited Ghost Flight as “one of the best debuts I've ever heard.”

Always working together between their personal music ventures, Brendan and Larry are proud to release their new material. Joining them are featured guest vocalists Rumer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tenor Fly, Pete Doherty, Aurora Dawn and June Miles-Kingston (backing vocals Fun Boy Three, The Communards, Big Country).

The cast of guest musicians is no less diverse, and includes Seggs Jennings (The Ruts DC), Jay Darlington (Oasis), Seamus Beaghen (formerly of Madness), Owen If (Stereo MCs) and Rob Shirakbari (Music Director for Dionne Warwick, and formerly keyboardist, arranger and Music Director for Burt Bacharach.)
These unusual collaborations bring a genre-defying album full of surprises, just as the title Minesweeping implies. An eclectic box of songwriting treasures, it’s a complex album that will draw you in deeper with each listen.

“There is no greater joy or honour for musicians than exploring the cultural and musical crossovers that occur when we visit each other’s trenches, try out each other’s armoury and venture together into no man’s land” says Love.

In the same way that Johnny Cash marshalled Rick Rubin (hip hop / electro pioneer) to oversee his final and majestic “American Recordings” sessions, O’Connell & Love were determined to nail the lie that only a bona fide folk/country/blues producer was worthy of the Minesweeping project.

Consequently, and determined to ‘urbanise’ their take on all things folk, they corralled the legendary dance producer Wizard (a.k.a. Greg Fleming) to oversee the recording process. Famed for his work with the Chemical Brothers , Dizzee Rascal, X-Press 2, Wiley, DJ Fresh, M.I.A./Diplo, Lyza J, Chase & Status and a host of other dancefloor luminaries, Wizard brought a unique approach to the situation.

As music becomes less and less homogenised and the likes of Snoop Dog work with country and western/Nashville players, O’Connell and Love, bang on the zeitgeist, believe Wizard’s take on acoustic music (i.e. he doesn’t have a clue who Nick Drake is!) places Minesweeping in a category all of its own…folk music with a hand grenade!

 “I feel that Minesweeping is a much stronger album than Ghost Flight.” says O’Connell. “We really have crafted the songs on it, going back over them and bashing them into shape. Ghost Flight took approximately 7 days from writing, recording and mixing it. Minesweeping has taken 7 years.”

“Many of the songs were born in Hastings, one stormy winter week. Looking at a choppy English channel changing from grey to green, rolling thunder clouds giving way to bursts of bright sunshine was a great inspiration. You can hear in songs like ‘Where silence meets the sea’, that there is definitely a nautical feel running through the album.

“Larry seemed irresistibly drawn to the extremely depressing seaside amusement arcades, where he soon blew his week’s allowance on the one-armed bandits…but some great lines came out of it, such as ‘She’s a slot machine winner trying to lose control, He’s a transatlantic sinner trying to find his soul.”
Larry’s take on the week in Hastings comes in the style of his Alabama 3 preacher persona:

“The combination of the weather, the hangover and the gambling desperados did nothing to cheer me up except to raise my glass one more time to heaven and pray to the Lord above to give me sweet inspiration.

“We retired to Brendan’s studio determined to somehow expiate the blues that had infused my sorry soul… and the Lord did bless us. From such melancholic beginnings did Minesweeping emerge.  After a week holed up in Hastings in the company of John Jennings, aka Seggs from Ruts DC, I’m happy to say we salvaged our sorry souls with these righteous songs which we are now prepared to raise up to heaven.”

Minesweeping was released in July 2015 on Mountmellick Music.

An intense, bitter, almost malevolent opening track, with a persistent, hypnotic guitar riff giving a sense of something approaching. In fact, Love wrote these lyrics about inmates on death row. This track plays through the opening credits of Hackney’s Finest, a feature film released April 2015. A part of this track is also used in the climax of the film.

2. CALL A CAB CINDERELLA  feat. Buffy Sainte-Marie
Has a building, sweet, melodic intro, with lyrics that call to mind lost loves, missed opportunities, the end of the night, longing for the past, wishing for better times ahead. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s exquisite, haunting vocals lift this track to the ethereal at times, leaving you with a bittersweet feeling that someone forever lost will never be forgotten.

3. HANGOVER ME  feat. Rumer
Anyone who has a friend that they love spending time with but know is bad for them will identify with this song. This J.J. Cale inspired back-porch anthem is a bluesy, rock and roll duet about the girl from high society looking for lowlife on the wrong side of the tracks.  As they trade lines like insults or sweet nothings – it’s hard to tell which  - Rumer’s angelic vocals contrast with Love’s growly baritone that speaks of late nights and no mornings.

This ballad takes us on a romantic, freewheeling journey across Europe with two lovers in the full bloom of youth, viewed from a nostalgic perspective long after the relationship is over. Think Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey era, or perhaps The Faces.

A Neil Young inspired paean to a friend of Love’s who is dearly missed, and whose tragic end is chronicled in the song. With nods to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Has Anybody Here Seen The Rain’, this song combines a 70’s feel, with the slick production style of Wizard .a.k.a  Greg Fleming.

6. SHAKE OFF YOUR SHOES  feat. Rumer
Influenced by the bewitching English folk music of Nick Drake and Joe Boyd, with a nod to Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider With Rosie’. This song expresses the peace and beauty of the countryside, but also hints at how threatening and unpredictable it can be. It a simple tale of cider-driven seduction, we’ve all been there!

The pace quickens to country rock and roll, inspired by The Band. It’s a song for the car windows down on a sunny day!

8. COME ON BOY feat. June Miles-Kingston
This is a song to encourage a mate whose once promising future was destroyed by his own demons – a rallying call to a lost friend who you hope might find himself again. It rolls with the pace of a Leonard Cohen song, but with a joyous lift at the end.

Empowered by the vocals of legendary reggae toaster Tenor Fly, this song celebrates the redeeming power and beauty of love, and has the feel and pace of a Stones/Motown dance floor number.

Inspired by Celtic sea shanties, the dimming of harbour lights and the taste of rum and sea salt in the air, this song takes us back to the attic studio in Hastings where many of these songs were conceived. Having later witnessed the burning of Hastings pier from the studio window, O’Connell and Love looked back to what the pier meant to all those lovers that have ever considered throwing caution to the wind and jumping off the pier.

A withering critique of the hypocrisy of the male of the species. This one asks the kind of questions that lurk inside us all! Played in the style of up-tempo late seventies Dylan.

12. UNCERTAIN HARBOUR  Feat. June Miles-Kingston and Anna Allen
A Celtic-infused ballad with a lullaby melody sits alongside mysterious and rather menacing lyrics. With mournful violins and mixed with lines from The Circus Animals' Desertion, a poem by W.B. Yeats, read by Anna Allen.

13. MINESWEEPING Feat. Pete Doherty
Returning again to the eternal theme of love lost and found, Minesweeping bookends the album with a last hurrah to love remembered in the trenches. Pete Doherty’s eloquent rendition of Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce et decorum est” unfolds the haunting imagery entwined in this song.

The simple and sparse arrangements leave space for the imagination to evoke men and women behind the recently issued letters from the First World War trenches, which were the inspiration for this song.

Read reviews of Minesweeping here
A sample of reviews for Ghost Flight, released on One Little Indian in March 2006

The Independent (4/5 stars)
On his solo album, the Alabama 3 frontman pitches out about as dar from his pastiche-heavy barroom-dance day job as imaginable. It’s all the better for it, though, offering country-soul stylisations in urban-jazz settings that fit his cracked, croaking Ian McCulloch-ish vocals like an old leather jacket.

Uncut  (4/5 stars)
Fine debut from Alabama 3 frontman. This lovely solo opus is a triumph of understatement, his knotty voice set against spare folk-gospel settings with a whiff of country (“The Pirate Radio Station” could be early Merle Haggard.) ..More than a few genuinely affecting moments.

The Sun newspaper  (4/5 stars)
Singer Robert Love shows himself in a new light on his debut solo album, introspective without being navel-gazing, subtle without being dull. He remains rooted in country music on songs such as opener Below the Wire but this engaging growl and tasteful backing ventures into gospel-soul on Lift up your Name, and jazz and blues on My Dying Bed…. Overall, there’s a good chance you’ll Love it.

Gigwise (8/10 stars)
Alabama 3 front man Robert Love shows his chameleon-nature and eclectic musical tastes on this his first solo release 'Ghost Flight' after a decade with Alabama 3. It's an album that's handled with great care, and addresses some of the preoccupations Robert has had to contend with.
The album has a production warmth and charm from Casper Kendros that would go down well over dinner, coming over with an alt. country/Americana sensibility.
Robert Love sings with a whiskered and whiskey drenched drawl that gives the lived-in impression of a battered and stained couch, fitting signatures to his life-lived songs, the cover featuring a well-groomed outlaw and maverick that's gonna win over some new audiences.
Full Gigwise review here: Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy bring the blues...

Observer Music Monthly (3/5 stars)
The Alabama 3 front man's solo debut is not quite what you'd expect, but Molloy Woodcraft likes its smoky, country feel. … could almost be Mark Lanegan backed by early Dire Straits.