Roisin O’Hagan is a young woman on a mission. She is talented, with a great, commercial sounding vocal and is someone who, at just 23, already has quite the back catalogue. Sunset Valley, released today, is her latest offering and we’ve been taking a listen here at the Send Me Your Ears studio.
The first thing you notice about Sunset Valley is just how well produced and commercial sounding this song is. Everything about it screams commercial air play in the US. And yet Roisin is from Essex, UK! There must be a part of Essex that fosters Country Music talent because Roisin’s music is authentically Southern States US, as well as having that much lauded “Nashville” feel to it. In fact, to give you some idea of how committed Roisin is to authenticity, she plans to head to Nashville soon for a writing and recording visit.
Sounding inexplicably like Taylor Swift, O’Hagan’s vocal on Sunset Valley is a fantastic example of how to use compression well on a recording. There’s a very clear “human” (un-tuned) feel to the vocals with no clipping, no distortion and no unnecessary extra breath sounds that you often get with a vocal that’s heavily compressed. This has been recorded, mixed and mastered just perfectly, and for anyone who’s read any of our reviews in the past, you’ll know this isn’t something we say lightly.
Sunset Valley is about a fictional place. Roisin describes it as being somewhere that a fictional protagonist holds onto the memory of someone from their past. Roisin says that she feels this is something many will relate to. If we had to criticise anything at all about the song, we’d very much like to hear something written more from the heart. We personally feel we connect a great deal more with a song, and that the vocalist connects more with their audience if they’re coming from a place of experience. Perhaps something to investigate whilst exploring during her trip to Nashville?
There’s some superb rise and fall throughout Sunset Valley. The chord sequence is familiar and comfortable and therefore you can just rest up and let the song wash over you. Perhaps paying more attention to the lyrics than you might in a more complicated rock or progressive song. The lyrics are always the main focus in country music and Sunset Valley has some great picture painting lyrics that manage to say a great deal about the protagonist, without using too many words; “start a fight in the middle of the night” for example.
There’s some double vocals in the breakdown which help maintain the interest for the listener and the musicianship throughout the song is exemplary.
Roisin O’Hagan is most definitely an artist on the up. She is someone we will be keeping a close eye on. There’s something about the combination of her drive, her songwriting ability and her smooth yet vulnerable commercial sounding voice that just oozes potential. No wonder she’s recently been picked up by Strategia Management and has some great festival slots booked for this year. We have no doubt that Roisin O’Hagan has all the potential to become a household name.