There is an argument that Megan O’Neill has changed direction with her new EP ‘Time (Thought You Were on My Side)’. Yet I prefer to think that she is simply building on what has gone before. This latest release may have far more electro-pop production than we have witnessed previously but she does not completely sidestep the eclectic nature of her last album, which had Americana running through its core. Storytelling is still the essence of her songs here, which also display similar themes to those on ‘Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty’.
For example, ‘Fail Better’ continues the positive take on failure of ‘Sometimes I Learn’; whilst her cover of Jim Croce’s ‘Time in a Bottle’ seems to have opened a path to explore the subject of time more with ‘Change Everything’ and ‘Time’. What may feel distinct about this EP in terms of its pop sensibility also has its roots in the past. I would argue that her shift sonically is not so much a new sound as bringing to the fore what was kept in the background on her debut album ‘Ghost of You’. The difference with this new record seems to be a more purposeful exploration of that which sat beneath and lent itself to the vocally-led performances of her early days. The effect of this sees O’Neill having more in common with someone like Mabel, as indie-pop comes to define her sound far more than country-pop or contemporary folk. This change shows an artist who is comfortable and more than capable of pushing the boundaries with her sound. ‘Time (Thought You Were on My Side)’ remains driven by her passion for story even as she chooses to tell them through a slightly different emphasis musically.
Originally written for and published on Belles & Gals on April 12th 2022.
Featured Image (C) Megan O'Neill