The timelessness of Americana music, encompassing genres such as country, blues, bluegrass, and folk, has long since touched a global nerve. Artists such as New Zealand’s Arun O’Connor tapped into its vibrant strands not because they wished to merely ape the style’s legends. O’Connor’s newest song “Star of Your Own Show” follows his previous single “Too Far Gone” with a steadily pressing country track with the forceful acoustic guitar running underneath. It’s an accessible work that doesn’t undermine its own worth in order to have mass appeal for music listeners.


It’s fitting considering the song’s subject matter. O’Connor writes with articulate directness about someone who has allowed their inner light to dim and urges them to see new value in themselves. It’s an age old message and O’Connor delivers it with individual flair. He, likewise, communicates the lyrics with restrained and artful emotion that never sounds overly rehearsed or structured. It has a surprising spontaneous, off the cuff quality scores of listeners will enjoy.

Despite its obvious significance, O’Connor’s songwriting will play well for causal music fans as well. This is a song where if you want to simply appreciate its superficial charms, those are abundant, and if you want to delve deeper, great rewards await. The acoustic guitar present throughout much of the song illuminates its likely origins. It’s sort of pleasing to imagine O’Connor alone with his guitar and hammering out the initial chords and verses to this track.

It’s certainly promising as a glimpse of the riches included on Songs from the Reading Room. Nashville songwriters are in a period that reminds me of the early-mid 1970s when seminal talents such as Billy Jo Shaver, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and others began to have a transformative effect on the entire Americana scene. The comparison isn’t literal; O’Connor has no one single model for his own work. The connection is, however, spiritual and real.

Many of the best songs reach the point of apparent effortlessness. It sounds as if “Star of Your Own Show” sprung fully born from his mind and we hear none of the necessary labor spent making this song the way it is. This sort of affability increases the likelihood of the song achieving popular success without ever demeaning its status as a meaningful work of musical art. It’s sure, as well, to play well in a live setting and I’m sure O’Connor is eager to debut it for appreciate audiences.

I am equally sure there’s more goodies to come from Songs from the Reading Room. O’Connor has slated sixteen songs for his full-length debut and likely wrote at least a few more than that. It’s shaping up to be one of the year’s most important releases in the Americana genre and will undoubtedly introduce Arun O’Connor to many appreciate ears. They’ll be hearing more from him in the years to come and I am certain it will either measure up or else surpass the outstand qualities we hear from this song.

Garth Thomas