Gene O Releases Mesmerizing New Single
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Gene O Releases Mesmerizing New Single

San Francisco has a historical reputation as a countercultural haven for music such as The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane, but artists such as Gene O illustrate the community’s diversity. The longtime vocalist, guitarist, and lead songwriter for 80s pop maestros The Make is cut from a decidedly broader cloth than those aforementioned peers.

His affinity for multiple musical points of view has announced itself over the last half-decade plus since Gene O’s 2017 solo debut. His latest single release “You’re the One for Me” should garner him ample praise from multiple quarters thanks to its exuberant, all-embracing thrust, but Gene O likewise writes adult lyrics that never paint love’s vagaries with rose-colored optimism.

I hear unstated undercurrents running through the track. There’s the mesmerizing vulnerability of a beating heart burned by love before. There’s the inherent hope implied by the singer’s willingness to believe that it’s truly possible the song’s subject is the proverbial “one”. Other listeners may glean even more from Gene O’s lyrical musings while others, even still, can appreciate the track’s words at face value. I hear a wonderfully elastic song when I listen to “You’re the One for Me”.

The instrumental work is impeccable. Some of the highlights, however, are the jangling acoustic guitar that helps form the cut’s bedrock, the piano playing that brings added percussive and melodic dimensions to the track, as well as the spot-on drumming that powers its sleek upbeat tempo. It’s a breathless, yet deeply emotional, voyage.

Gene O’s voice is at the center of it all. He inhabits the upper registers of his voice without ever sounding coy or precious and there are soulful inclinations in his vocals that hint at his wider talents. His singing works well within the context of a breezy, yet substantial, pop-country arrangement. I hear smatterings of rock, as well, crouched within the song’s changes.

There are band members who break away for solo careers and end up regurgitating weaker variations on their band work, but little more. Each of us knows about such artists. Gene O, however, has staked a claim to an identity all his own rather than living off his lengthy and often glorious past with The Make. “You’re the One for Me” shares many of the same strengths distinguishing his earlier work, but I can single out its unique vitality.

I expect countless other listeners will as well. It marks a resurgent year for this seasoned singer, musician, and songwriter. Setbacks such as radiation treatment for his vocal cords haven’t dampened his enthusiasm for singing and there’s hard-won optimism lurking behind every word and note of this gem. “You’re the One for Me” will leave you with a smile, yet never insult your intelligence. It isn’t cookie-cutter in any way. Instead, Gene O has put his stamp on a timeless theme in popular songwriting with a track that ingratiates itself early with listeners and keeps paying off throughout the number. Scores of first-time listeners will find a new favorite, without question, while longtime fans will be reassured that Gene O is working at or near the peak of his powers.

Troy Johnstone

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