Australian husband and wife duo Mark and Jay O’Shea’s work under the O’Shea banner has garnered numerous Golden Guitar Awards, the Australian equivalent of the CMA’s, and has logged an assortment of #1 singles on the ARIA Country charts. Their new single “Everything Means Nothing” draws from their personal life recounting Mark’s marriage proposal to Jay in a Sydney restaurant. It’s a love song, without question, but the O’Sheas produce their own personalized variation on this tried and true subject. The aforementioned personal touch distinguishes it from similar fare and their unique confluence of duetting voices puts a deeper distinctive stamp on the track. You come away from hearing “Everything Means Nothing” the first time certain no one else could have written, performed, and released this track except for the O’Sheas.


The song begins with light sparring between keyboards and acoustic guitar. This brief introduction segues into Mark O’Shea opening the song and the delicate musical scaffolding they build for supporting his voice is complementary. Percussion comes in and establishes a steady rhythmic foundation for the song, but O’Shea continues to keep things elegantly minimalist. Lindsey Jackson’s production skills surround the song in a warm glow befitting the subject matter and her attentiveness to balance between the instruments and vocals deepens the song’s impact for listeners.

She shares a co-writing credit for the song as well. Penned by Jackson and the O’Sheas, the lyrical content describes Mark’s proposal to Jay in a Sydney restaurant and all of the experiences following their marriage. The words convey their journey in a matter-of-fact manner rather than wreathing it with pseudo-poetic flourishes. The accumulation of specific detail, however, builds to a form of conversational poetry that gains a lot from the vocal melody, the duet format, and the phrasing of each singer.

Phrasing contributes a lot. The O’Shea’s essay the words in such a way that the phrasing fills the song with unexpected percussive qualities. They vary their vocal tempo a handful of times during the track and mixing it up in such a way expands the song’s diversity. The accompanying music video for “Everything Means Nothing” further underlines the personal dimensions of the single. It incorporates abundant home video footage that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their lives rather than relying on tired promotional video cliches. It’s a polished production despite its obvious DIY aesthetic and a visual feast for the eyes.

The craftsmanship of this musical experience is obvious with a single listen. O’Shea, however, doesn’t release bloodless and faceless songs seemingly machine-produced and lacking soul. This is flesh and blood stuff we’re hearing with “Everything Means Nothing” and, despite being a love song, lays it on the line for listeners in a way few songs do. This duo is working at or near the peak of their powers, but you get the feeling listening to this song that there are more peaks ahead for the pair and they are inviting us to join them for their rich and wonderous ride. 

Garth Thomas