Siobhán O'Brien
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Siobhán O'Brien

Alexandria, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1988 | SELF | AFM

Alexandria, Virginia, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 1988
Solo Folk Rock




"Kickass Music Women Magazine"

Kickass Music Women Nashville, TN,
A gifted songwriter with a voice so pure it fills your insides and lifts you as it soars high and simmers you in heartache when it’s low and trembling. O’Brien is Irish magic all her own.
She’s a strong woman with passion and purpose.
Song after song, she delivers a spectrum of emotions accented by distinct rhythms and catchy hooks. Covering themes of spirituality, love and the challenges of being human, O’Brien chronicles her journey in a manner that is relatable but also cause for reflection. There is an exquisite tension in her voice that resonates and affects – Deeply.
One of the standout tracks, “My Man”, shows the genius of lyric simplicity and a vast range of her riveting vocals .. chill bumps, indeed. The entire album is a solid assortment of transformational and enjoyable offerings. From the first listen, it will already be a favourite in your collection.
By Cassandra Olsen (Kickass Music Women) - Cassandra Olsen (Kickass Music Women)

"Review: Siobhan O’Brien “Siobhan O’Brien”"

Artist: Siobhán O'Brien
Album: Siobhán O'Brien
Reviewed by Alex Henderson

When a singer/songwriter has a name like Siobhán O'Brien, lives in Limerick (which is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Ireland), and has performed as a guest vocalist for the Chieftains, one naturally assumes that some type of Celtic music is involved. And to be sure, there was a Celtic influence on her previous folk-rock album, Songs I Grew Up To. It contained performances of several American songs (including Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” the Grateful Dead’s “Muddy Black River,” Albert Frank Beddoe’s “Copper Kettle” and the Lefty Frizzell-associated “The Long Black Veil”) but nonetheless had some Celtic influence at times. In fact, the Chieftains’ Paddy Maloney appeared on O’Brien’s versions of “The Long Black Veil” and the standard “The Lakes of Ponchartrain.” However, this self-titled CD never really ventures into Celtic territory. It isn’t traditional Irish-Celtic music (such as the Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners or the late Tommy Makem), and it isn’t Celtic rock (which could be anything from the Pogues to Clannad). Regardless, this is an excellent album from O’Brien, who continues to operate in the folk-rock/adult alternative realm. But this time, she does it with her own material.

Songs I Grew Up To was an album of standards and covers, whereas this March 2011 release offers songs that O’Brien either wrote or co-wrote. She wrote most of the material herself, although Eamonn Hehir (the album’s producer and engineer) co-wrote three of the twelve tracks with her: “Leaving Me,” “Brightest Star” and “Sanctuary.” The writing is consistently strong whether the mood is happy and optimistic (“My Man,” “Sanctuary”) or melancholy (“Guilty of Despair,” “Naked,” “Access to Happiness Denied,” “Orphan Song”). O’Brien’s CD has its share of melancholy moments and songs about romantic relationships that didn’t work out. On “Leaving Me,” for example, O’Brien tells an ex-lover that leaving her was the best thing he ever did for her and gives a long list of reasons why she is glad that he is out of her life. But the mood is totally different on “My Man,” which finds O’Brien listing all of the things she likes about a man she is in a relationship with (a very different type of man from the one she describes on “Leaving Me”).

“Access to Happiness Denied” is bluesy and jazzy in a way that brings to mind Maria Muldaur. It isn’t jazz or blues in the strict sense; O’Brien isn’t trying to emulate the late Abbey Lincoln any more than she is trying to emulate Koko Taylor. But “Access to Happiness Denied” demonstrates how beneficial jazz and blues elements can be on what is essentially a folk-rock song, and the lyrics are clever and dark-humored in a way that is clearly blues-minded.

O’Brien (who plays both acoustic guitar and harmonica on Siobhán O'Brien) clearly has a strong emotional bond with American roots music. She demonstrated that on Songs I Grew Up To, and she continues to demonstrate it with her own material on this album. “Indians,” for example, is a shout out to Native American culture. In fact, O’Brien sings about Native American culture so convincingly on that someone who didn’t know anything about her background could easily assume that she grew up in Arizona or New Mexico instead of in Limerick, Ireland. Hehir, who produced and engineered this album in a studio in Limerick, does well by O’Brien. He favors an organic production style, underscoring her rootsy leanings. And O’Brien is also well served by the disc’s combination of acoustic and electric instruments; some keyboards are used, but mandolins, banjoes and acoustic guitar are also part of the equation.

All of the pieces fall into place nicely on this consistently rewarding album.

Reviewed by Alex Henderson
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) - reviewyou

"Siobhán O'Brien reviewed by John O'Regan"

Quote by John O’Regan – Caught In The Act Magazine

During the recent ‘Salute Him When His Birthday Comes’ Dylan Birthday Concert at Dublin’s The Button Factory, organised by Fleadh Cowboys main man Pete Cummins, Siobhán performed a solo version of ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ simply accompanied with her own guitar and harmonica, and received rapturous applause. The fact that she performed with guitar and harp accentuated the troubadour image associated with Bob Dylan. While the cast for the night included The Fleadh Cowboys, Henry Mc Cullough, Gay Woods, new Irish Blues wunderkind Gráinne Duffy, Liam O’Maonlaí, Mundy, etal, a veritable whose-who of Irish Talent, the singular figure of Siobhán O’Brien hit the Dublin audience harder than the rest and received a tumultuous welcome.

This audacity is typical of Siobhán O’Brien – a woman so borne into her own self-sufficiency and belief that she has garnered a generation of admirers ranging from The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and back.

John O’Regan on ‘Siobhán O’Brien’ (the LP)

‘Siobhán O’Brien’ is a powerfully eloquent and articulate collection of quality and memorable songs. She sounds comfortable in her own skin both vocally and lyrically. Musically think Bob Dylan, Michelle Shocked, Lucinda Williams, Sandy Denny and you have some inkling as to from which she springs. There are equal touches of Americana and English folk-rock of the singer-songwriter kind together with some Irish influences, but the major strain is of a contemporary hew. Siobhán O’Brien is a homegrown effort that producer Eamonn Hehir recorded during 2011 at Shanavogha Studios in Limerick.
Lyrically she is consistently strong on the optimistic ‘My Man’ and ‘Sanctuary’, the latter a personal favourite, a subtle folk rock ballad, which recalls the articulate nuances of Sandy Denny’s lyricism and the romanticism of English seventies folk-rock and the gorgeous ‘Brightest Star’. The latter has been a highlight of Siobhán’s live apperances. Further evidence of Siobhan’s growing lyrical depths are found in the melancholy ‘Guilty of Despair’, ‘Naked’, ‘Access To Happiness Denied’ and ‘Orphan Song’. - Caught In The Act

"O’Brien masterfully tackles some classic tunes -"

That’s the great thing about folk culture – you can just succumb to the fact that all the great songs have already been written and have your own go at them. Now when I saw the title of this album and the image of O’Brien as a child which adorns the cover I’ll admit that I was terrified of what awful abominations might lie within. But when all is said and done, this is a beautifully sung and performed collection. Traditional songs like ‘All My Trials’ and ‘The Lakes Of Pochartrain’ have been done many times before, but there’s a great tremolo in O’Brien’s voice which lets them live anew (she’s a little like Karen Carpenter with backbone) and the understated production and expert musical performances (featuring the likes of Paddy Maloney from The Chieftains) mean that she takes few wrong turns. Even when she covers the Beach Boys, Harry Chapin or Bob Dylan (‘You Aint Goin’ Nowhere’) she doesn’t go wrong. Why? It’s just great stuff really.
Key Track: ‘The Lakes of Ponchartrain’ - Hot Press (Ireland)

"Shades of Stevie Nicks on the latest offering from Siobhán O'Brien"

Songwriter Siobhan O’Brien’s self-titled album sees the tunesmith incorporate elements of folk, blues, country and soft rock into her own musical brew. For the most part, the genre gymnastics work really well on this charming LP. Bolstered by an impressive, quivering, Stevie Nicks-esque croon, the record is at its best when the singer really lets those melodies soar. ‘Leaving Me’ and the anthemic power-ballad ‘Guilty Of Despair’ are definite highlights. Lyrically, the likes of ‘My Man’ err on the cheesy side, but there is a real talent at work here. - Hot Press


Lily Tumbleweed - Wanted (Cassette) 1988
Siobhán O'Brien - What's It All About (Cassette) 1991
Siobhán O'Brien - Mumbo Jumbo (EP (CD)) 1996
Siobhán O'Brien - Like A Habit  (Single (3 songs)) 1997
Siobhán O'Brien - Beautiful Bodies (Single (3 songs)) 2005
Siobhán O'Brien - Cat's Eyes 2006
Siobhán O'Brien - Songs I Grew Up To  2008
Siobhán O'Brien -  Self-Titled  2013



When Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains says hers is “A voice the world should hear,” pay attention. With a hint of Alanis Morissette, her strong voice with a lush vibrato can soar over a pop arrangement in one number and in the next, soften enough to sing a traditional folk number like Sandy Denny. She’s a fourth-generation musician from Ireland with melodic original songs in a variety of styles, from earthy folk to hard-hitting pop. Hailing from Limerick, Ireland, she’s recently settled in the U.S. She’s no stranger to the states, though, having toured there, as well as in Europe. She’s released six albums, including the most recent self-titled CD containing “My Man,” “Naked,” and “Guilty of Despair.” They lean toward pop, with her trademark clear voice telling us about her man, about longing, and sorrow – all rich with emotion. “Indians” uses a powerfully strummed guitar to explore American Indian culture and on “Brightest Star” she sweetly sings, “I feel the chill but I know your heart is thawing.” Other albums feature moving renditions of Jean Ritchie’s “The L and N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and the Beach Boys “In My Room.” She puts her own stamp on each one, delivering them in a unique way. Her 2008 CD, Songs I Grew Up To, contains songs from her dad’s record collection and features Paddy Moloney. 
Siobhan has done over 300 shows in 2017 alone. Over the years she’s played her folk, pop, rock, country, Scottish, and Irish music in small coffeehouses, concert halls, and at festivals. She’s shared the stage with the San Diego Symphony, The Chieftains, The Cranberries, Donovan, and Christy Moore. In the nineties, she had the pleasure of singing for Bob Dylan, Bono, Chrissie Hynde, and others; Bono responded with an enthusiastic “Wow!” Dylan asked her to sing on stage with him.
Influences are wide ranging, from jazz singer Nina Simone to folk goddess Joni Mitchell. She grew up in a musical family so you can hear that in her voice, too. Her mother teaches voice and sings in musical theatre and at other events. Her uncle is Brendan Bowyer, the iconic Irish showband star of the sixties. 
Until recently, music was a passion she pursued on the side while raising her son and doing other work. Now that she’s in the U.S., she’ll focus on music.  She enthusiastically tells us “I have waited my whole life to do this.” Don’t wait your whole life to hear her. 

Band Members