Phoenix O’Neill grew up in Watford, North London and attended school in St. Albans. She was born into a musical household – her mother sang and played guitar, her dad was a drummer, and her step-father a singer-songwriter. Phoenix started writing stories and poems at age eight, songs at nine, and by thirteen, she had built a considerable portfolio. Her first live performance occurred when she was fourteen, at her mum’s friend’s wedding in France. Now at age twenty-three, Phoenix O’Neill has been giving heartfelt, memorable performances in and around the Hertfordshire area, and recently gained the attention of world famous producer James Sanger, best known for his work with Dido, Keane, Siobhan Donaghy, and Brian Eno. James immediately paired up with Paul Inder-Kilmister (Lemmy from Motorhead’s son) to create Sangmister Music, where Phoenix worked with both luminaries on her debut EP in Joshua Tree, California. The EP, entitled “Out Of The Ashes” is set to officially release on April 30th, 2018.
Across the EP’s four tracks, the centerpiece of each song that sticks its finger right out of the speakers and into your face is Phoenix O’Neill’s vocals. Sure, there’s some pretty easy Birdy, Lorde and Amy Winehouse comparisons to be made to Phoenix’s sting-in-the-tail pipes, but really we should be paying closer attention to this woman’s own personal rasp, howl and under-breath murmur, emphasized through crystal-clear production, and we will discover a voice with confidence, sassiness and the utmost of class. All the while, the EP toes that fine and difficult musical line, remaining accessible while never sacrificing its emotional heart.
Whether she’s leading the charge in toe-tapping numbers such as the twirling “Cruel” and ferociously groovy single “I Need You”; or soulfully, emotionally crooning through smooth, intensity-switching balladry like the gorgeous “Alien”, and the sprawling mood-inducing “I Feel It”, Phoenix is pulling vocal moves like a professional veteran.
The liquid pronunciations and seamless transitions between her empowered husk and her seductive purr are worth any price of purchase alone. Phoenix lets her ability to convey emotional depth do much of the talking on these tracks. Her innate vocal intuition is truly the star of the show, and should be something celebrated by more and more people.
To say that everything else is a bonus would be to undermine the music and production – something no reviewer should be caught doing, regardless. On “Out Of The Ashes”, the music is tight as ever, creating vivacious and well-structured backdrops to Phoenix’s voice; bold and adventurous in its ambitious genre-envelopment.
Various guises of pop and urban soul make up the musical centerpiece, but subtle elements of alternative rock and electronics push the cutting edges of this recording. It’s all delivered with real enthusiasm and the production makes it sound huge, and profoundly captivating.
Phoenix O’Neill is the complete package, a fantastically unique voice that demands attention with beautiful song composition and a glowing physical presence. Phoenix does such a good job of making every song infectious. Every cut comes across as though you somehow already know it and with which you want to sing along.
The very familiarity of her warm voice paradoxically is what makes her different. Her vocals are simply impeccable, with which Phoenix O’Neill gives exquisite, rare and soulful performances. “Out Of The Ashes” is stunningly haunting and graceful.
*** Phoenix was recently awarded the international showcase fund support from the PRS Foundation to help towards costs, allowing the band to be able to perform at MUSEXPO which they are very appreciative for. Phoenix O’Neill is supported by PRS Foundation international Showcase Fund, which is run by PRS Foundation in partnership with Department of International Trade (DIT), British Underground, Arts Council England, The Musicians’ Union (MU), PPL, Creative Satland, Wales Afts lnternational and Wales Afts lnternational in association with Pledge Music.***