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Jamie O'Neal - Shiver 
Album Review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill 

Jamie O'Neal's debut album with Mercury Records, Shiver, is an enhanced CD that includes 13 songs (nine of them co-written by O'Neal), photos, home video clips, a screensaver, and a variety of relevant links. O'Neal is the Academy of Country Music's current Top New Female Vocalist, and deservedly so. She is the first female solo act to reach the top spot on the country charts with a debut single since 1996.

Her bio states: "Jamie O'Neal is that rare individual, a debut artist who arrives with her talent fully formed. A superb entertainer, a polished songwriter and a real 'singer's singer.' " After listening to this album, I couldn't agree more. This is one of the best, over all, CDs that I have listened to in a very long time. The lyrics and the music are equally powerful -- and powerfully sung. There is not one song on this CD that lacks the potential to be a number one hit. "She Hasn't Heard It Yet" is one of my favorites songs on the album and despite the sadness of the lyrics, you will find yourself replaying it just to get lost in the melody while "Frantic" is a fun, fiddle-driven tune that makes it impossible for you to sit still. "The  Only Thing Wrong" is another upbeat, bluesy ditty that will get your toes tapping for sure. All of the songs are sung with quiet strength and passion and several of them feature beautiful harmony. The robust male harmony voice on "Where We Belong" and many of the album's other tracks belongs to songwriter Rodney Good. And if romantic tracks like "To Be With You" and "You Rescued Me" ring with a certain authenticity, it's because Good proposed to O'Neal during the making of Shiver. They were married in Florida a few weeks after completing the CD. O'Neal also turns in a beautifully solid country duet with label mate Mark Wills on "I'm Not Gonna Do Anything Without You."

The album ends with the mournful, hauntingly beautiful, "To Be With You." The wonderful use of Spanish guitars and subtle castanets are a perfect compliment to the passion displayed in O'Neal's voice.

Her life story reads like a country music song. O'Neal was born in Sydney, Australia as the first child of professional musicians Jimmy and Julie Murphy. When Jamie was seven the musical Murphy's settled in Las Vegas to perform at The Golden Nugget casino. And when she was eight, she and younger sister Samantha, joined their parents onstage. She has been honing her skills and paying her dues ever since and her determination has finally begun to pay off.

Like all true-blue country singer/songwriters, O'Neal's songs are created from her own life experiences and you are surely destined for the Opry stage when you can create a number one hit song that was written about dogs! That's right; "When I Think About Angels" was inspired by, and dedicated to, O'Neal's dogs. In an interview with CNN she said, "Well, it is actually dedicated to my dogs, my one dog that I lost and my new dog that my husband bought for me. We nicknamed him 'the Angel,' (and the song is) dedicated to him." Spoken like a true country artist.

"I have always wanted to be in Nashville," says O'Neal. "I have dreamed of this my entire life. This is what I have always wanted. I have always wanted to do country music. I love the faithfulness of the country fans. I love the fairs. And I especially love how the audience relates to your songs. What you are saying means much more to them than it does to pop fans. Nashville is where I belong."

I'd say that these are the words of someone who is destined to be in the country music hall of fame and Shiver most assuredly indicates that Jamie Murphy O'Neal Good has the talent to back up her words.


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