Walls & Windows

Grammy-nominated Maura O'Connell and producer Ray Kennedy (Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle) have focused their considerable artistry on a dozen songs, creating one of the best vocal albums of 2001.

Grammy-nominated Maura O'Connell and producer Ray Kennedy (Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle) have focused their considerable artistry on a dozen songs, creating one of the best vocal albums of 2001. The common thread here is the superior quality of the tunes, which are by no means thematically linked, but, rather, are choice tracks authored by such writers as John Prine, Malcolm Holcombe, Ron Sexsmith, Eric Clapton, Patty Griffin, and Van Morrison. O'Connell's performance is galvanizing. She's at the point in her career where the emotional power of her voice and her ability to command that power are running in tandem. O'Connell can take a song, empty herself into it, and end up owning it. Her cover of the Rose-Kennedy-Sharp tune "Walls" is such a moment, as is her stirring version of Clapton's "I Get Lost" and her desolate take on Prine's "Sleepy Eyed Boy."—PVV