The emphatic drive pushing Arun O’Connor’s new single “Star of Your Own Show” towards its inevitable conclusion will be one of the best hooks for this song. Other aspects of the track, however, capable of drawing listeners into its web are the open-hearted vocals from the New Zealand born songwriter and the understated five-star musicianship distinguishing this recording. There’s no clutter, no extra instruments where they are not needed, and a focus on authenticity that never seems forced. Producer Jay Tooke has done an outstanding job giving “Star of Your Own Show” and his earlier single “Too Far Gone” a thoroughly modern sound that, nonetheless, never forgets the roots of his music.
He’s thoroughly submerged in the Americana tradition, but it’s a diverse song. The vocal arrangement, in particular, is a study in rich contrast. Listeners enjoy moments of gritty but never strident authority, multi-tracked vocals, and unobtrusive harmonies. Tooke maintains a compelling balance between the instrumentation and vocals, never leaning too far in any one direction, and it results in a more fulfilling listening experience.
The polish isn’t surprising. O’Connor has built a considerable reputation as one of the best songwriters working today without yet making his presence felt on the global scene. His first full-length album Songs from the Reading Room ends that. It announces his arrival without any unnecessary ballyhoo as a songwriter and performer with a formidable amount to offer. His name, already achieving marquee status in his native New Zealand, will ascend fast on a worldwide scale.
A lot of that hinges on the song’s message. “Star of Your Own Show” speaks to someone at a low moment in their life and palpable sympathy stands out from the outset. There’s a rollicking edge present in the song, without question, but it has much broader concerns at heart than merely physically engaging listeners. It does that just fine, however. Nothing is out of place in the arrangement, and it hits listeners with just the right musical punch. O’Connor and his collaborators have obviously paid a great deal of consideration to the recording and performance of this song.
We can expect the same from him going forward. He’s with every word vocally, never short-changing any passages, and focusing on communicating from first line through last. He has a strong presence without ever threatening to overwhelm listeners. It’s the sort of presence capable of inspiring a listener’s trust from the outset rather than spending even a second of the song questioning his sincerity.
It will serve him well in years to come. “Star of Your Own Show”, however, shows that talent in full bloom, sparkling with a zest for creating that’s far from flagging. He sounds like he’s gathering steam, in fact, with each new single and it’s not a stretch to expect the third single from his forthcoming full length album will build on his already impressive momentum. He’s a powerful performer certain to get better with each new release; he has boundless promise being fulfilled by the day.