Sean O'Brien and His Dirty HandsFirst Cold Press
Here at Insurgent Country - we know Sean O'Brien for quite some time already. He is a veteran of the West Coast rock scene, living in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, having performed and recorded with the legendary band True West, Meantime, Denim TV, The Mariettas and The Mistaken, a side project featuring Gregg Turner of The Angry Samoans. Every couple of years he surprises us with a new solo album and in 2014 it's 'Risk Profile', again including His Dirty Hands. Sean was considering this album title and another one (no, not going to tell you...), so I'm glad he finally picked the one I voted for! The front cover shows a painting by Sean's talented brother Liam and on the inside we find a few more tasteful photographs. There are twelve tracks on the disc, starting from alternative rock and pop, then following unusual musical roads with jazz and even electronica.
It has been a hard time for Sean, after the loss of his best friend, talented guitarist and co-producer Jeff Kane, who passed away after a brave fight with a rare type of cancer on June 2nd, 2012 - only 56 years old. This album is dedicated to Jeff. Sean tells: "There wasn't a day I didn't think of Jeff in writing and recording the new album. It was a good kind of therapy. It helped me stay sane through a tough time. But the album is not maudlin or sad. It's powerful and upbeat." The atmospheric track "Torn Down And Hauled Away" is a co-write by Sean and Jeff, it incorporates (very recognizable) some of the music from "King City", a song on the album 'City Lights' by Russ Tolman, who wrote his own lyrics with Jeff's music. Am I the only one who hears an awesome 'surf' guitar there?
There's a rather large amount of musicians playing on these tracks: the original Dirty Hands, drummer/co-producer/engineer Matt Boudreau and bassist Tom Hofer of course. Among others: Greg Lisher from Camper Van Beethoven, Damon Wood from Engine 88, Michael Papenburg, who has performed with Penelope Houston, Tom Hofer from The Leaving Trains and pianist Rob Reich. I'm happy to see personal favorites Max Butler, who was the multi-instrumentalist in Chuck Prophet's Mission Express and Joshua Raoul Brody on keyboard, who played in one of Jeff Kane's other bands.