Gene O’s contributions to modern music are just as important as the legacy he’s created since first emerging in the 1980s as lead singer and guitarist for the Me Decade’s rock band The Make. The San Francisco, California-based singer/songwriter still has unfinished business with his compatriots in The Make but he’s also continuing to apply himself toward a solo career that began in 2017 with the release of his debut effort Geneology.
His new solo single “You’re the One for Me” is a triumph in more ways than one. He’s recently undergone radiation treatment on his vocal cords and the downtime necessitated by such procedures. The new single, however, serves notice that Gene O isn’t allowing such challenges to undo the artistic progress he’s made at every stage of his musical journey. Renowned for his willingness to incorporate varied strains into his songwriting, such as Latin and R&B influences, “You’re the One for Me” finds him working in a delightful country-rock vein that he tackles with the same adroit skill defining his work as a whole.
The single generates impressive energy from the start. “You’re the One for Me” rides a brisk tempo without Gene O ever rushing the song’s effects. Where many listeners will hear a country-rock tinge coloring the track, others may hear a straight-ahead pop song; it certainly doesn’t have much in the way of purist aspirations. Gene O’s songs are living things, rather than musical butterflies he’s pinned under glass.
It boasts an excellent structure. Keen-eared listeners will gravitate to small but significant details such as the percussive piano fill preceding the song’s bridge by seconds as evidence of how little twists in the arrangement give the song an understated flair. The chorus and bridge are exceptional. They strike the appropriate note for the overall spirit of the composition and Gene O handles such moments masterfully.
You won’t find any extended instrumental breaks. An excellent supporting cast serves Gene O quite well, however, with superb musicianship at every turn. The layered sound achieved by the ensemble is rich without ever sounding overwhelming and the production allows each of the song’s disparate parts ample room to breathe. The performance, however, is never diffuse. Gene O and his cohorts are attentive to the nuances of interplay from beginning to end.
You can’t help but hail Gene O’s ability to support an obvious freshness in his performance style after such a long career. Nor can you help but admire the song’s buoyancy in the face of his ongoing difficulties. “You’re the One for Me” may be, nominally, a love song Gene O directs at an object of his desire, but it’s ultimately about something larger, more intangible. It’s about continuing to affirm life’s possibilities rather than shutting the door.
Gene O isn’t ready to rest. We shouldn’t be ready either. His new single “You’re the One for Me” sparkles with the joy of creation and holds up under repeating hearings. It shows Gene O is far from finished and that’s cause for rejoicing.
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