Life changes offer songwriters a well of lyrical inspiration, and Irish-born, New Jersey-based singer Helen O’Shea is both offering and taking her own advice on “Unbecoming,” her latest single, released today. “Unbecoming” is built on a musically tight descending progression, topped with O’Shea’s lilting, soothing and comforting voice, a sound she calls “Americelticana.”
“Unbecoming” is a song about having the courage to dismantle who we have become through the expectations and demands of the people around us to get back to who we truly are,” O’Shea says. “The stimulus for ‘unbecoming’ often comes from unexpected life transitions or events that stop us in our tracks. This song is meant to encourage us all to throw off the chains and take advantage of these unexpected events, the signs the universe has sent us, to follow our own dreams, not those that may have been imposed upon us, in order to live life to our fullest most beautiful potential – ‘set yourself free, you hold the key, to become all you can be.’”
So teach your children well/Don’t box them in a cell/That limits who they are/Or stops them going far
Just help them find a way/To keep the hurt at bay/So even if they bleed/Maybe they won’t need…
The Irish-born singer had a full career as an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology when she moved to New Jersey in 1994 with her husband and children. With her husband’s support, she took a leave of absence to focus on raising their family. She reconnected with her love of singing as a means to stay creative, and befriended like-minded musicians in the Central New Jersey area.
In 2014, O’Shea met with noted producer Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, The Bodyguard), who has become a mentor to the singer. “From the moment I started working with Marc in the studio, I knew that I was in the best possible hands.” Swersky helped her achieve her vision and in 2017, she released her 10-song debut CD, Turning Tides.
Swersky co-wrote and performs on “Unbecoming” and culled together a solid crew of top talent to lay down parts for “Unbecoming,” including Steve Holley (Paul McCartney, Ian Hunter), Plink Giglio, Alex Brumel and Marvin Perkins. The song was recorded and mixed at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch, New Jersey with Joseph DeMaio and mastered by Leon Zervos in Australia. The Scrabble-themed video was directed by Jack Daniel McNamara.
In addition to her latest CD release, O’Shea fronts two different bands: Shenanigans, a Celtic band playing old and new songs of Ireland, and her original band, Helen O’Shea & The Shanakees. The word shanakee is an old Gaelic word (seanachai) for storyteller, a person who would go from house to house telling stories for pay.