Uptown is the first solo release from Los Angeles (via Santa Barbara) singer-songwriter Todd O’Keefe. Todd was the bass player in LA power pop quartet The 88 and is an accomplished session musician. Before recording Uptown, O’Keefe has been a sought-after touring and session musician, playing with Jeff Beck, Black Francis, Ray Davies, The Posies, and many more.
O’Keefe approached writing and recording Uptown with a stripped down and back-to-basics approach, akin to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, or Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon. The songwriting is a mix of Brill Building pop and the Great American Songbook with songs that are lyrically inventive and melodically infectious. The songs are also short – very short. The entire album clocks in under 28 minutes.
“I wanted each song to stand up without any overdubs or embellishments of any kind,” says O’Keefe. “Each chord and lyric had to have a purpose for being there – that was the idea, anyway. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of the basic song as it was written.”
In fact, Uptown is recorded entirely in mono, reinforcing the lack of pretension of the songs.
“It was definitely a conscious decision to present the songs this way”, says O’Keefe. “Simple songs recorded in the most basic way that I could. – acoustic guitar and voice – not exactly reinventing the wheel I admit…but it felt like the right thing to do at the time.”
Uptown album stream/download: