Even with some help from CBC Music, namely for the first single “Buena Vista”, Jeen O’Brien’s Tourist hasn’t received the attention it deserves. So while it came out earlier this month, Tourist is a hidden gem until otherwise proven wrong.
O’Brien isn’t exactly a newcomer to the music industry even though Tourist is her debut LP. For years, O’Brien has worked behind the scenes, writing songs with notable Canadian musicians such as Hawksley Workman, Serena Ryder, Brendan Canning (of Broken Social Scene) and Great Big Sea. But now in front of the microphone, Jeen O’Brien – who goes by the simple stage name of Jeen – gets the opportunity to share her many talents with the world, which includes production as she produced her own LP.
Tourist is a wide-ranging album. It touches on the catchy pop tunes of Serena Ryder, the indie pop and melodic tunes of Brendan Canning, and the gritty indie rock of Hawksley Workman. As such, it’s not an album that can be categorized in any one genre, but it is one that can be appreciated and enjoyed by many.
The first single, “Buena Vista”, is a driving, catchy punk-pop tune. “No Fade” and “Way Up” are anthemic, roaring tunes that should have crowds jumping and dancing. “NY Island” is a bubblegum-style pop tune that is boppy and smile inducing. “Everywhere I Go”, meanwhile, has the catchy pop leanings of Tegan and Sara’s more recent work.
The album, though, isn’t just full of catchy pop tunes. There are sombering and reflective mellow tunes, such as “Summertime”, “Sad Boy”. It is on the heavier, deeper thumpers where Jeen really excels. “Golden” is a haunting, throbbing number. Unlike the poppier tunes, it’s rougher around the edges and grittier, much like what PJ Harvey has done. “A Hole in My Heart”, meanwhile, is mid-tempo pop-rock tune that builds slowly before its dreamy finish. There’s a Liz Phair-meets-HAIM quality to the song, the perfect marriage of ’90s indie pop-rock with modern textures and beats.
Tourist is an album that more people need to pay attention to. There are tracks that are mainstream radio ready while enough songs to keep indie fans happy. There are pop, rock, and folk tunes. It’s an album that represents the diverse interests and the flexibility of Jeen O’Brien, and hopefully she’ll continue to write songs that span the entire musical spectrum. It is in the diversity of songs where the album finds its strengths and where one can truly appreciate what O’Brien’s talents.
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