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Album Review: You Can’t Run Out Of Love by Siobhan O’Brien

“You Can’t Run Out Of Love” is a line from the title song of this delightful and important album by the Virginia-based Irish singer Siobhan O’Brien.  It refers to the hardship of a mother with three baby boys who discovers that she is pregnant again, this time with a girl.  No matter how many ways she has to share her love with her children and others, it never runs out. 

O’Brien is a brilliant songwriter with an angelic voice that can also get down into blues-rock territory.  She deftly blends the music of her adopted home with that of the old country – Celtic songs, tunes, and longings.  The result is music that propels your body, slams your gut, and sticks to your heart.  The ten songs on this, her third album, range from down and dirty blues in “I Stayed Too Long” to driving rock reminiscent of the Grateful Dead in “The King’s Fool” to solid country in “The Burger Song” to a heart-wrenching ballad in “Mother”.  Every song is a gem and every song is unique.

But don’t let the joy of her guitar and harmonica and talented band obscure her writing genius.  Her  lyrics can paint a picture that is hauntingly familiar, but not quite, as these lines from “I Stayed Too Long”:

With my guitar and my rucksack /And my traveling shoes

They’ll never get to know me /So They never can tell

I rely on the kindness of strangers

One thing that lies ‘tween/Heaven and Hell.

And some lyrics break your heart like the opening verse of the title song: 

3  little boys was a pretty good fit/When suddenly you’re feeling kinda sick in the morning

You don’t’ know what to do/People talking bout you

Just remember that you can’t run out of love.

And some just make you laugh and wonder, like the chorus of “The Burger Song”:

I’ll eat my burgers by the double/And drink my egg yolk – raw

And run in circles till I find salvation in his law.

A fourth-generation Irish musician, songs run in Siobhán O’Brien’s blood. When she recorded her first sea shanty at the age of 6, no one was surprised since she is the niece of Brendan Bowyer of The Royal Showband and the great-great-granddaughter of Albert Bowyer of the Bowyer/Westwood Opera Company of Blackpool, England.  But eventually, she grew up, grabbed a guitar, and moved from her native Ireland to America where she quickly secured an opening slot for English songwriter, Nick Lowe and never stopped.  O’Brien went on to perform with Bob Dylan, The San Diego Symphony, The Chieftains, and many more, recording three albums along the way. 

Like all of her solo work, You Can’t Run Out of Love combines American music like folk, blues, country, rock, and traditional music from England, Scotland, and Ireland.  The combination is heavenly; your love for this album will never run out.

Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Los Angeles, California, with a global following. His two weekly radio programs, MusicFridayLive! and MusicaFusionLA are heard nationwide and in the UK. He focuses on two music specialties: emerging bands in all genres, and the growing LA-based ALM genre (American Latino Music) that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America like cumbia, banda, jarocho and mariachi. He also likes to watch his friend drag race.

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