Steve O'donoghue hails from Hyde in Manchester and graced our stage in March. Absolutely top notch songwriting going on here!! I can hear Roddy Frame, Edwin Collins and Glen Tillbrook so you get the jist of the talent here! "Johhny Walker" was my fave of the night with some brilliant guitar playing (I hate him!) Steve Smith Henry Boons
This is the debut long player from stalwart of the Manchester singer/songwriter scene and is strangely released via a German label. The music contained on this album comes across like a mixture of Aztec Camera, XTC, The Beautiful South and Squeeze (his voice is very reminiscent of Glen Tibrook). The open track ‘Don’t Give Up The Ghost’ is a pleasant countrified ballad with some nice piano work, while ‘Come Out Of The Rain’ is a bouncing sing along with some neat quirky touches. ‘Johnnie Walker’ pays more than a passing nod to the Beatles and in particular the songs of John Lennon and this is where the album falls down. The music all sounds a bit to familiar and the lyrics can at times be a bit contrived, but that said, It is a good piece of work that shows promise and enough quirkiness to hold the listeners attention. The best track is ‘Glass House’. Simple and heartfelt and head and shoulders above most music in the charts today.
Review from City Life magazine
is worth the wait
by Dave Tuxford
The first communication told of a busy 2002 spent touring. In the course of the next year I learned of the local singer-songwriter’s forthcoming album, its subsequent European (but not UK) release, his frustration with the record company, his exotic lifestyle (distributing flyers advertising gigs), the new baby, the I’ve Got A Baby To Feed Gig and the Britons Protection event to promote the UK release of Martha (predictably, perhaps, copies failed to arrive) at which, finally, I managed to catch Steve O’Donoghue live.
Afterwards, O’Donoghue emailed me to point out apologetically that he’d been ‘dying of a cold’ that night. I really couldn’t say I’d noticed.
What I had been conscious of was a formidable stage presence with maybe just a hint of arrogance (but, as Martin Simpson once remarked, you need that to survive as a performer) and a confident way with a lyric and melody that belied his youth.
Oh yes, and O’Donoghue can play guitar a bit, as well.
Now, hopefully virus-free and with supplies of Martha, O’Donoghue’s back at the Britons Protection. Worth the wait? Unquestionably.
On the strength of this assured collection, Steve O’Donoghue should go far.
Steve O’Donoghue plays at Briton's Protection on Great Bridgewater Street on Saturday, December 6. Admission is £4.
Flying Shoes Magazine -Steve
(Fire Station Records)
more like the heyday Liverpool sound than what the uninitiated might call today's
Manchester sound. For those in the know however, Steve is in the vanguard of
a bustling, post busking, acoustic scene in the city, which is supported and
finds a world-wide window through the auspice of www.acoustica.tv who helped
him released two very fine introductory singles last year Glass Houses and Johnnie
Walker . This and hard work playing every open mike and support spot within
a petrol tank expenses of Manchester has culminated in a record deal and released
of these and 8 more pristine pop offering by German label Fire Station. Steve
is becoming quite the ambassador for this kind of home spun but still quintessential
British pop, with organic musician led trails opening up all over Europe for
him, evoking and mirroring the quality of the likes of Ray Davies, Nick Lowe,
Glen Tilbrook, John Lennon, Ian Brodie, Roddy Frame, if not their more industrial
rise to fame. The winding road and not the fast track awaits Steve, but a life
full of experience and song is assured. We could all find a song from the iconic
list above to whistle down the wind, Glass Houses has become one of those big
songs for me, such a shame that it hasn't much of a chance of blowing a hurricane
around the world in these pop idol dominated days, however I for one am really
looking forward to getting to know the rest of this album, well worth hunting
by Rob Ellen
were formed in the early-mid 90's in Manchester by singer-songwriter Steve O'Donoghue
& Phil Davies. Steve sang & played acoustic rhythm guitar & Phil
played lead. They regularly played gigs at all sorts of venues in Manchester,
but they were clearly disadvantaged by the lack of a bassist & drummer.
Despite this they had some fine songs, with an Aztec Camera influenced sound.
Best songs were the ballad "Stranded" & the uptempo "Bored
To Tears" & "Is This The Love She's Found?".
Phil Davies gave up on music, but Steve O'Donoghue has continued performing & recording solo. However after recently attending one of his solo gigs, I purchased a 3 track CD of songs from his forthcoming new album to be released in August; & I was pleasantly surprised to find a full band on the recording including piano & keyboards as well as guitars, bass & drums. The use of a full band has really filled out the sound & has seriously improved upon songs that had been in the Salvatore repertoire. I look forward to it's imminent release.
This record is well played,well sung and well put together.As a piece of artisitic self expression it is definately a successful body of work. New artisits can and do break in to the mainstream radio. On the basis of this album there's no reason why Steve can't pitch in and beat them.
Tom Robinson (BBC Radio 6 DJ) And Performer
Listening to this CD makes me feel like I'm checking out the debut from the singer of a band like Travis (though I'm sure a Roddy Frame reference could also work). And while Steve O'Donoghue has been in bands before , non of them have garnered that kind of widespread airplay. So this CD will probably be the first opportunity most people will have to hear his music
For the most part the songs on the album have a stripped down British pop/rock sound that befits the singer/songwriter description. Strummed and plucked acoustic guitars dominate the songs and the vocals are delivered in a soft , personal , retrospective manner. While the music holds it's own , it also tends to get a little lost in the background. When listening closely , the lyrics become the focus and I found lines like "She's not coming back ,and that's a fact" to be a bit lacking. To his credit though , 'Johnnie Walker' the song , which uses that line has a nice chorus which makes it one of the better songs on the album. In fact, most of the songs have a strong chorus and it's just the connecting verses that sometimes fall flat.
The stand out track on the CD is "Come Out Of The Rain". This song gets the most rocking and the vocals carry more emotion too. This one has the kind of chorus that you will find yourself singing aloud as you listen and it's the song that makes me feel that Steve O'Donoghue could have fronted a more well known band that packed electric guitars and a bigger sound. I think had I already heard a couple of albums worth of material from 'that' band then this 'solo' album would have a strong foundation and a sense of context. Standing on it's own though, I feel there's something missing.
Sinse it's a sense of familiarity and context that I seem to be missing when listening to this album , I could see the album growing on me over time. The guitar playing is quite pleasent , the vocals are easy on the ears , and the choruses are able to carry the songs through the rough patches. Not having heard any of O'Donoghue's earlier work, it's hard to know how he has progressed as a singer/songwriter , but this CD leaves me wanting to see if he can fill out the songs a bit more and become an even better lyricist. And that's more than I can say about the debut solo albums of many better known artists.
Penny Black indie music magazine
Whilest Manchester is perhaps better known , musically at least , for the days of the Hacienda , and recent bad boy image guitar bands (Oasis?) , there is a somewhat more underground scene that includes a handful of relative unknowns, who ply their trade to small appreciative audiences in dim (sometimes smelly) side street music venues.
Along with the likes of Matt Hill , Anna Kashfi , Kirsty McGee (at the acoustic end), Hooker and Bonebox (at the plugged-in rockend of the local scene) , O'Donoghue is seemingly happy to by-pass the attention from international audiences by way of association with the Manchester scene , opting instead for a German label for the release of "Martha"
It's easy to see why "Martha" would be at home on the European market - filled with instantly infectious pop tunes such as "Come Out Of The Rain" and the Beatlesque "Johnnie Walker" , along with the jazz pop "Stranded" and "Cathedral Bells" , the album will be a welcome addition to any pop collection. However , whilst O'Donoghue aspires to write perfect pop songs , the end result of the album as a whole leans towards the mediocre end of the genre that aficionados have become a little blaise about. As a general pop album it has merit , O'Donoghue perhaps being Britons answer to Chicargo- based Chris Mills. There is also a certain charm and polish to the album , by way of thoughtful and poetic lyrics , and the general style leads one to believe O'Donoghue might have honed his craft as a busker , buffing his original tunes to a sheen on the streets of Manchester. Had this been a Sydney musician, no doubt he would be very popular on the Club Acoustica circuit.
Although musical comparisons to Roddy Frame abound , there is very little in the way of influential citations. It would be easy (and lazy) to the term 'self styled' in to the equation , but I suspect that pop minstrel O'Donoghue crosses the geographical boarder between Lancashire and Mersyside , and weaves Liverpulian pop (Beatles era) into his undesclosed influential threads.
On German label, Firestation this record is so much in the style of the Beautiful South, it was difficult to think of much else. There are also some other British songwriting influences, Squeeze, Prefab Sprout and the Beatles, most notably. Pleasent enough but way to derivative.
PW (Americana UK)
really is extraordinary as Mr O'Donoghue really does sound a lot like Roddy
Frame and the opener
"Don't Give Up The Ghost"really could be lifted from "High Land Hard Rain" with it's plaintive vocals and acoustic backing. After a few more tracks it's obvious he's no clone and certainly brings his own style to the table. Overall it's a pretty fine album, but it does have the problem that no one track really jumped out and grabbed me, and gave the album a definitive feel or message.The overall style doesn't vary a whole lot either and there is, for me at least, a feeling of tedium before it gets to the end. I'm not sure why that is, because individually all the songs are good, but as a program it seems a bit much, something akin to my feelings about Isobel Cambells records. Of course you may not feel that way so I do reccomend that you check this out especially if you are a fan of early Aztec Camera.
Who should you accuse? Who is to blame for the fact that more and more records are released which, when hearing them, feel like you've already listened to them a hundred times before? These records aren't bad at all, but they don't risk any thing, they favour the old fashioned melodies. Steve O'Donoghue belongs to the singer-songwriter category. Every man loves his very own singer-songwriter, it doesn't matter who comes around, no one will win a part of the listeners heart if there's is already somebody else. Hero's of this genre take in a paternal role.
"Martha" is a fine little record which never gets on your nerves but neither does it make you do summersaults. Only the third song "Johhnie Walker" stands out like an apple tree in a strawberry field.
Those who haven't found their musical farther yet should give Mr. O'Donoghue a chance
Brit Pop Arsenal- (GERMANY)
Firestation Records latest release comes in the shape of Enlish singer songwriter Steve O'Donoghue. A graduate of the famous city of Manchester.Martha is a likeable album and Steve's vocal style is that of a cross between John Lennon and Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame. The songs themselves have an acoustic feel like Nick Heywood and Haircut 100.There is darkness in there, but also light.He is attractive and writes good quality acoustic pop.
Aztec Camera sound firmly hardend by a Beatle's melody
This is a personal favourite
Apple Crumble Magazine (JAPAN)
Steve O'Donoghue's mission it would seem is to find a way in to your soul and maybe make you smile, laugh and cry all at the same time. Tales of love, hope, rejection and the every day struggle of life against life. Round every corner and under every rock there are snippits of optimism and buoyancy along with the downbeat ballads that love brings.The stark beautiful south-esque melodies about washing hair and setting free, the loneliness of cathedrals and city life. The lovely piano on "Vanity's Case" hides the break up of communication between two lovers.
The influence of Dylan is felt on quite a few of these songs, and the lyrics have a Dylan-esque belief about them in their descriptive tones and colourful scopes. "Find Me A Rainbow" singalongs about a girl searching for the love of a guy without really finding it "She's looking for some love and a little affection, all she get's are likely lads -lying about the size of their erections"- She should stop going up King Street Wigan then.
The view point of women is often sung from on this album, but not in a more haunting or shocking way than on "Love'rs Sunset" where a wife/girlfriend sings of the breakdown of marrage/relationship maybe including rape, not recognising the man she met and fell in love with. Subjects not heard of on local scenes or even nationally - marital rape.
The closing track "Close and True" is a beatle sounding hymn-song, that though everything that has gone on in this album, we've made it, completed the journey. The bells are ringing, our loved ones are awaiting our triumphant return, and home is where we rest.
No matter what the state of the human condition, there wil always be people like Steve O'Donoghue ready to pick up the risponsibility and march straight on in to it. "We weathered the storm, we made it through, close and true"
Close and true, a statement of this album's intent that hits the hamer on the head
John Tougher-Bangyoureadere magazine-UK
REVISE BAR-CHARLTON 17/04/02
O'Donoghue ambled on to the stage in what looked like a pajama jacket-a cross between, Johnny Ross and Andy Pandy. He grabbed attention with his usual mix of wit and intense song writing, the best of which received were 'Johhnie Walker', England's Glory and Working Mother- an uptempo oldie, that he hasn't played for years. Aswell as self penned songs, Steve threw in Billy Joel's 'Piano Man', a very apt tune for the evening. The only down side really, was Steve's unwillingness to do an encore. I've whitnessed him decline the offer before, and like most find it rather irritating of him, and some what ARROGANT.
THE WITCHWOOD - ASHTON-MANCHESTER 25/11/01
Resembling a rabid Dustin Hoffman in his Midnight Cowboy role TONY SIDES crawled out of the Manchester underworld to pen the following review of Steve O'Donoghue's support to Martin Stephenson.
The Witchwood is looking like a very busy place given that we are almost in to December and this is a Sunday night. Halfan hour later than promised Steve O'Donoghue jumps on stage dressed in faded blue jeans and American army shirt. He'sasking if we're up for it, "I know I fu*king am" he shouts with half smile half snarl as he launches into "England's Glory",a story of apathetic middle England with it's petrol queues, football fans and their penchant for German cars. The song ends with the dramatic force of machine gun fire that almost physically and mentally blows us away.The audience applauds, Steve smiles, friends again.
Steve tells us how touched he is by the recent "success" of his internet chart hit "Glass Houses" Number 114 with a bang," It'll be a bloody nokia ring tone soon you wait and see". The song itself is a touching portrayal of a broken relationship where both parties feel the damage of shattered illusions and ultimately, the hurt of unattainable dreams.What price would most song writers pay to call this song their own ? It goes down a storm, the place is silent.
"I love your songs, me mate does too but it's her round and she wont go to the bar while your playing" shouts a loud voice from the front. "They warned me" he grins, "don't do Ashton, they're a funny bunch, they'll have you." He introduces his next song " Cathedral Bells" but breaks off "Oh go on, go and get your mate a drink, I'll just have a chat with her till you come back." "What's your name ?" he asks the rather thirsty female in the front row. "Eve and I fuc*ing love your songs andso does me ma". "Your mate, yea I know you told me" he smiles. Eve goes on to play rather a large part in the show including an impromtu stage invasion to give Steve a hug and kiss at the end of the show
Composed as ever, Steve reintroduces "CB" and you can tell by his palying that he's enjoying himself and is, indeed, as he put it "up for it" The set consists of old classics ala "Find me a rainbow" and "Snow White" through new songs "Johnnie Walker"- She's not coming back, and that's a fact. Not that I need proof, he drives a car that doesn't have a roof"
There's a mention for America, a plea for understanding and lastly a lovely song dedicated to a friend who'd passed away earlier this year. It's hard to believe that half an hour has just passed, but it has and the cold November air has become a distant cousin comparred to the warmth in here tonight. Steve plays again withthe wonderful Martin Stephenson again at the Blue Cat Cafe 19/20th December Miss it Miss out