Even the nastiest critic in town—a.k.a. your crusty chronicler’s youngest son, William Jared James Phoenix—couldn’t help but appreciate the catchiness of Deedee O’Malley’s song “Beautiful L.A.”. As much as your rockin’ writer’s youngest teen enjoys almost automatically pronouncing anything played by Dad as music that “sucks”, he quickly found himself singing along to O’Malley’s music. Just who is Deedee O’Malley?
O’Malley is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter, author of the bestselling, interactive songwriting book 10 Easy Steps To Writing A Song and recent recipient of the Los Angeles Music Awards Singer Songwriter of the Year. As a child she was exposed to artists such as Carol King, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. She has been playing guitar since she was a kid and wrote her first song at the age of 13.
Her love of music and the arts led to earning a BFA in Music and Theatre Arts from Hofstra University on Long Island in 1985. O’Malley, who once resided in New York City, started her career there by performing commercial jingles for companies such as Heinz, IBM and Wham-O. Soon she was working as a backup singer for such artists as Willie Nelson, The Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers, Patti LaBelle and Jermaine Jackson.
She created one of the characters for the kid’s show, Sneakers, which has been running for over a decade. O’Malley even contributed two tunes, “Show Yourself” and “The Right Track Now” to the production. She would next relocate to L.A. where she would land a gig opening for Glen Campbell. (She would go on to perform at hotspots like The Whiskey and Genghis Cohen and share the stage with LeAnn Rimes. O’Malley has also opened for Stephen Bishop, Al Stewart and Ambrosia among other acts.)
She would continue to expand her personal catalogue of original songs, having her music featured on television and in motion pictures as well. The new millennium would even witness the release of her debut disc, Simple on Woa Records. Simple contains 14 tracks of folk pop. Chosen as the number one Indie CD of the Year by Music Connection Magazine, the black and white packaging to Simple might be . . . well, “simple” but the music is well-written and the lyrics are entertaining if not also often insightful (and ya gotta love her bare feet pictured on the CD itself).
The lead-in is “That’s How You Got To Me Baby”. Here O’Malley tells a tuneful tale of how her lover “got to” her simply by simply doing things that made even the everyday “disasters” seem less disastrous. “Rome” follows with a message about patience and perseverance. Surprisingly, although the song is built around a well-worn idiom it still works.
“Spring Is Here” and “Peace Of Mind” follow here. Both are pleasant, positive pieces. “If You” is the kind of “girly” number of which anyone would secretly be totally flattered to be the subject.
The title track, “Simple”, is another upbeat cut that perhaps describes how O’Malley feels relationships should be. “O’Malley mellows out with “Pictures In My Mind”. This ballad is vaguely reminiscent of early Joni Mitchell. It has a “live” coffeehouse feel to it complete with the sound of her fingers sliding on her guitar strings.
“Feels So Right To Me” has a bit of a folk feel to it. It also serves as an excellent example of her early Chapin-like storytelling ability. Still, this was only a “runner-up’ for “Critic’s Choice”. That honor falls to “The Perfect Love”. With clever opening lyrics such as: “They clicked like peaches and cream/He’s a girl’s dream lover, she’s a boy’s wet dream” and a catchy, upbeat chorus this one can’t be beat.
“Lessons I’ve Learned” is a downbeat number about an imperfect perhaps even painful relationship and yet one gets the impression O’Malley is the wiser for it. There’s honesty admitting that it was not all bad and that the blame is to be shared. (Yours truly has heard enough songs from women who blame everything on the man for the past couple decades so this is a refreshing respite from that all too common attitude.)
“Overnight Hit” is another mellow song that focuses the truth behind so-called “overnight hits”. And how much of the press portrays the oft’times life-long struggle for stardom as “so much less”. “Shine”, the full-of-wishful-thinking “Goodnews” and the quiet closing cut “Every Wish” are further examples of O’Malley’s talents.
Three-time Lennon songwriting contest winner O’Malley would also release her sophomore CD the 13 track Beautiful LA.in 2001. No suspense here, folks. Critic’s Choice” goes to the lead-in to this country pop/rock recording—the title track—“Beautiful L.A.” It’s catchy, upbeat and paints the whole “going-to-California-to-be-a-star” dream in a realistic, less than stellar light. O’Malley’s touch of self-deprecating humor is wonderful.
“Falling” and “Roses For No Reason” are both songs that take a generally positive look at being in love whether it is the start of a potential relationship or praising one’s partner for unexpectedly doing something nice “just because”. (On behalf of the male gender, Deedee, allow yours truly to express his concern that the male character in the latter tune will perhaps raise the expectations of women the world over too high!)
The next number is the upbeat “Not that Kind of Girl” followed by “Miracle Each Day” which exemplifies her desire to find the positive, discover motivation to carry on and appreciate little things. “Little One” which is another musical parable of patience that focuses on growing up. “Take the World by Storm” expresses the love and support of a parent and “Time and Space” is yet one more example of O’Malley’s sincere writing. “Runaway Train” is an upbeat vocal chastisement of and musical metaphor concerning an unfortunate man with commitment issues.
“The Longing” is the kind of emotionally honest song about wanting to be with a man that your randy reviewer has simply not heard enough of for quite some time. This is certainly one of the best songs on the album if not one of her best songs to date. “Too Little a Word” is a bright, rockin’ song about the size of a gal’s self-esteem when she has a man who shows her he loves her.
She takes a break from her near trademark optimism to do “Jezzebelle,” the tuneful tale of a woman who used her powers only to heal yet was burned at the stake as a witch. It’s a dark, dramatic diversion from her positive pop pieces and perfect for inclusion on any Halloween music mix. The surprisingly hard-rockin’ “The Road” and the brief, calm bonus track “Outside My Window” concludes this noteworthy work that earned O’Malley the Los Angeles Music Awards Singer/Songwriter of the Year and helped her win the Sarah McLachlan Lilith Fair Contest.
2005 would be highlighted by the release of her third album the 13 track The Outside which featured such songs the title track, “Not A Body” and “Paint This World”. She would quickly follow it up the next year (2006) with New York Girl. Both were released on the Size7Music label which is named after her current band.
This one has 15 tracks of pop and folk pop opening with the happy “Puddles” that is O’Malley once more accepting stressful moments in a less than perfect life with a maturity one only gains through experience. “Follow Your Heart” is a song from her earlier days co-written by Barry Wise and leads into “The Boy” which is a pure O’Malley piece about a girl who cannot forget a former beau.
“New York Girl” (co-written with Phillip Bynoe) is next. It’s a semi-autobiographical song about a girl having to relocate from New York to L.A. highlighted by street sounds and a bluesy trumpet by Stuart Cole. “Someone” poses the age-old question: “Is there someone for everyone?” O’Malley’s reminds us that “The future is wide open/And it’s . . . never too late”. It’s uncertain how O’Malley gets away with lines like: “She’s fifty pounds bigger than she was before/But that’s fifty pounds more of her he can adore” but she somehow pulls it off.
“Love for Being Right” was co-written by Gary Captol and asks: “When we turn out the light/Would you rather sacrifice love for being right?” “Me Myself and I Day” has a welcome touch of jazz and was co-written by guitarist Michael Shure. It reminds men about a woman’s needs to do girly things and enjoy some alone time.
“Love Like That” follows. Co-written with Sherry Pedigo, this is a wistful wish for a relationship one only sees “in the old time movies.” “Frame” is one of those rare examples where O’Malley reveals that maybe it isn’t always easy to look for the silver lining and even though we must all move on after a relationship ends perhaps it’s OK to momentarily reflect on and deal with regrets. Afterwards though, she reminds us to remember to enjoy life when we can in the song “Giant Bite”.
“Your Friend”, the upbeat “Share Your World” (co-written with Shure) and “My Favorite Dessert” are next and further prove O’Malley’s worth as a singer-songwriter. “No Greater Gift” slows things down a bit and is vaguely reminiscent of Carole King. The closing cut is “Out of Control” which takes listeners through a woman’s anguish and perhaps stereotypical coping mechanisms such as “feasting on ice cream/Like some kind of pig”.
It’s hard to picture eternally optimistic O’Malley ever pigging out on ice cream or ever having to use “vaseline” to “fit through the door”. (This one ought to be sold to Jenny Craig.) This cut is awarded “Critic’s Choice” for its self-deprecating humor (and the belch at the end). It’s nice to know a gal like O’Malley—who is always finding silver linings—sometimes has the same typical insecurities as other women. After all, misery does love company.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.
(NOTE: Check out this link if you like O’Malley’s music: http://www.icontact-archive.com/gJ7QsSlSvVQehq8igRSXZlVeJT0L9mTD?w=2&fb_source=message )