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Jamie O'Hara

Beautiful Obsession – 2002 (Valley Entertainment)

Reviewed by Scott Homewood

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CDs by Jamie O'Hara

With his voice a moody cross between the theatrical acrobatics of Roy Orbison and the slow-burn intense croon of Chris Isaak, Jamie O'Hara keeps it up front and accessible, while at the same time adding intricate percussion loops and varied pop touches taking his romantic and passionate songs to a point just this side of Orbison's mid-60s work.

Still, pedal steels whine and skitter through his songs, along with a spattering of mandolin and plenty of acoustic guitar flourishes. The lyrics suggest an honesty, a total and complete baring of the soul that brings to mind a simplicity and realness that is found in a lot of the older country artists and the newer ones emerging - ones that readily borrow from the pop canon as much as from George Jones.

As progressive country grows, country music fans will be increasingly be confronted with records that bridge the gap, forcing a choice between what one will accept as "country" music. If that is the trade for albums as pleasing and passionate as this one, what are we waiting for?