Pop-influenced country music has a bad reputation with many music purists as a bastardization of traditional music, prefabricated, and soulless. It deserves some of these epithets. There are, however, several acts working today that manage to synthesize traditional country and pop inclinations into a substantive hybrid that isn’t disposable but, instead, exhibits true staying power. Mark and Jay O’Shea, collectively known as O’Shea, are at the forefront of that select group. The Australian natives, long since relocated to Nashville, boast an impressive track record of prior success, and their new single “Everything Means Nothing” continues in the same vein without running the risk of repeating themselves.
It isn’t hard to hear why they stand out from other acts in the same vein. O’Shea rips “Everything Means Nothing” from the pages of their autobiography and they convey a sizable slice of their soul in every line. You can’t help but hear how they don’t hold back. It’s a relentlessly honest lyrical document of how they came to marriage and the voyage since then full of human frailty, good and bad times, and a sense of togetherness that you cannot fake.
The musical arrangement is perfect for the song’s subject matter. They don’t overburden the songwriting with ostentatious instrumentation but, instead, lean on the perfect weaving of keyboards, guitar, and drums to achieve the desired effects. More evidence of the O’Shea’s songwriting skill comes through in the song’s length. There isn’t a single extraneous component in the track; every part serves a purpose, and there is no useless ornamentation.
Their gorgeous singing voices are ideal for the material, as well, and contrast nicely. Mark O’Shea’s voice naturally occupies the lower end of the register in this vocal equation while Jay claims the higher end. They achieve an effortless blend, however, and structuring the song in alternating verses is an effective method of musical storytelling. Their harmonies have a light and likable touch during the chorus as well.
They’ve released an effective video for the song. O’Shea’s promo footage for the “Everything Means Nothing” music clip takes us behind the curtain in the same way that the song’s lyrics do and affords an intimate glimpse of the life they’ve shared. The disarming candor of the clip dovetails perfectly into the vocals and lyrics alike. They’re presenting their fans and newcomers with as representative of a song and package as an artist could hope for – you finish hearing this track and watching the music video convinced that you know these two and can identify, at least in some measure, with their lives.
That sort of intimacy is welcome in these times. There’s no pretense with O’Shea, no fakery, no unnecessary varnish. They come at you unadorned and resolutely themselves. “Everything Means Nothing” doesn’t weigh you down with sappy romantic pablum, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and you close the song uplifted by the listening experience rather doubtful or mired in despair. If you appreciate forthright and heartfelt music, O’Shea is a perfect act for you to check out.