Composed, arranged, and performed by Brian O'Neal
Mood Swings is a step into Jazz for a generation raised on Hip-Hop. Looped, syncopated beats that find their roots in Top 40 and Adult Contemporary R&B grooves. In the broadest sense, one could classify this music as "Easy Listening" or "Light Jazz." And true, this is an excellent album for candlelight and a smooth Cabernet, but that would be a failure on the listener's part to see the overflowing musical merits of this album. Brian O'Neal is a compositional monster. With what would seem to be a very limiting looped rhythm and harmonic structure, he is always adding and subtracting little counter melodies or doubling parts on other instruments and keeps things incredibly fresh and interesting throughout.
O'Neal has chops to spare too when placed behind a piano, using his improvisational abilities to stretch out the harmony and play with the time laid down by the rhythm section. But he never allows himself to become over indulgent or draw the listener away from the song with flashy solos. My only complaint for this album is that even the least discriminating ears, at times, become very aware of the fact that the music was recorded in large part using synthesizers. This is not to say that synths themselves are not a viable musical instrument, but in this setting it does not allow them to react to Brian's improvisations the way that a live band is capable of. With his immense talent, I would be very excited to hear what Brian could do with a room full of equally talented musicians. That said, this is an incredibly consistent album, which shows that Brian will be an artist to keep an eye on in the coming years.
by Brian Hull