Wild Lines as a title is a misnomer, as the songs on the album are unrushed, controlled pop rock. There's little raucous or unleashed about them.
O'Neill seems to be under no pressure as he effortlessly strings together pleasant melodic tunes like "Henry", and "Colin". The hooks are sharpened on "Don't Forget To Breathe" and the sugary Sloan-esque pop tune "Say You Don't Mean It".
Things do get a little too sleepy from time-to-time. "Old Forest" and "Calgary", for example, are so snoozy that you'll find your mind wandering to other important issues, like did I leave the stove on?
O'Neill does find the sweet spot several times. The strolling ditty "Tidy Up" and "Overtime", with its country slant, offer two very different head-bopping opportunities. The album's statement song comes in the form of "Wasted Time". O'Neill manages to sound both strident and empathetic as he delivers the song with unwavering confidence.
The relaxed feel of Wild Lines is welcome. It sounds like O'Neill is easy himself back into things, and making the listener comfortable while he does it. It's a nice, if not brilliant, return.
Mike O'Neill plays the Horseshoe in Toronto on March 20th.
Best tracks: "Tidy Up", "Wasted Time"
Track list for Wild Lines:
- This Is Who I Am
- Tidy Up
- Wasted Time
- Don't Forget To Breathe
- Old Forest
- Say You Don't Mean It
- She's Good
- One Pair Of Shoes