The title track to Annie O’Neill’s EP Wild Card is immediately striking for O’Neill’s emotionally direct vocals and ability to shift dynamics and tone on a dime. The deft but subtle chord changes lend the song a musical complexity that you’re not expecting in a bluesy rock song that’s just a bit over three minutes long. That compositional sophistication coupled with O’Neill’s confident vocals has a forcefulness and sense of mystery that one hears in the music of Heart, particularly when Amy Denio lends her vocals for the tasteful harmonies. Like many of the songs of the latter, “Wild Card” is about the contrasting emotions that happen in intense relationships, the kind that change and challenge you in various ways even if they ultimately have to end because they’re not good for you. “Wild Card” seems to be a nod to a creative partnership of some kind in which one party thinks the other is naive and foolish because she’s singer who, like pretty much everyone honest about it, hasn’t lead a 100% exemplary life because we don’t live in a world designed to reward talent and integrity while pretending to. And to make it through a world like that you often have to pretend you have no reaction to what’s thrown at you. Yet how long and how often can you pretend before you have to say something or react in a way that might make others nervous? The line “Doesn’t everybody fall from grace sometimes?” is so poignant as it calls out the way our culture holds everyone to impossible standards with no context, scrutiny without accountability from a place of humanity, understanding and compassion. Listen to “Wild Card” on Soundcloud and connect with Annie O’Neill on Spotify.
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