PJ O'Brien
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PJ O'Brien

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | INDIE
Band Blues


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"Irish Name, Aussie Home, Good Blues"

Does PJ O’Brien play from the heart? He certainly cooks from it. The hallmarks are all there. He swings hard on opening track Beauty Queen, with tasty little fills between meaty lyrics about what a man does best: wallow at the feet of the woman who drives him nuts.

O'Brien’s a good Irish name and the Irish are, as stated in The Commitments, the blacks of Europe. But this guy's from Australia -- although given that it was founded by convicts, the Aussies do seem to come by second-class citizen soul more easily than most. There are some pretty standard influences at work, with licks recalling Freddie King, Albert King, Luther Allison and Stevie Ray. In bluespeak that means you’ll dig it.

It’s something of anomaly, too. Most blues albums have always contained a fair chunk of cover material, with blues being the one genre where familiarity has bred anything but contempt. O’Brien’s work is all his own, though. It’s mostly the standard 12-bar or 16-bar arrangements, but the instrumentation is tight, the lyrics are nice and there are some good attempts to change things up occasionally via minor-chord key changes in songs like One and Only and Everybody's Crying that add a little soul to the proceedings, and syncopated rhythms. He even throws in a Stevie Ray influenced instrumental with an Albert Collins name, Elbow Grease, that cooks pretty hard. There’s some heavy gear southern blues rock influence here, too. Kind of Mind is a like piece of old Skynyrd mixed with a bit o’ Bad Company. It rocks hard.

One point: Muleshoe, New Mexico is a great, great piece of Texas blues. There’s only one problem: “if you’re south of the border,” as the song states, you ain’t in New Mexico. Unless you came from Canada. Those wacky Australians.

Rating: 4/5 - Edmonton Sun, Canada, by Jeremy Loome

"Blues People Album Review"

This is Paul O'Brien's first CD since the Paul O'Brien and Thundershuffle release, 'Blues from the Soul', back in 1998. And I think his many fans will say it was worth the wait.

Since the Thundershuffle days, Paul has reinvented himself as PJ O'Brien, and in fact took out the Blues section of the MusicOz competition last year.

On this album, Paul (vocals, guitars) is supported by Don Hopkins (keyboards), Ian Lees (bass), and Jeff Cripps (Drums). Not a bad crew, eh? The CD was also recorded and engineered by Jeff at A# Studio.

Paul is a very good guitar player (he's a strat man), singer, and songwriter, and is a great exponent of the Stevie Ray Vaughan style of Texas power trio blues. Having said that, Paul also draws on the playing of people like Albert King, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy, and this CD showcases 10 songs by Paul covering a number of styles.

There are some rocking SRV shuffles, some big power trio shuffles built on BIG riffs, nice acoustic blues, a very sweet acoustic ballad, and even a nice slow blues with BB King-style licks.

This CD shows that Paul is one of the best younger blues guitarists and vocalists on the scene at the moment, and one who has the potential for a long and illustrious career. - The Blues Times, Sydney Blues Society, Gary deWall

"Bluesin On"

PJ O'Brien is an acclaimed, award winning blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. He was inspired to take up the guitar at age 17 after a surprising encounter with Buddy Guy, and in December 2004 he won 'Best Blues Artist' at the MusicOz awards which recognise outstanding independent musicians. Based in Sydney, he recently released his debut solo album, BLUES PEOPLE, on Black Market Music Australia. PJ's debut release is a raw, energetic blues album which embraces the sound of his influences including Buddy Guy, Lucky Peterson, Albert King, Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

When I first heard Beauty Queen it grabbed me, I had to hear more.... After listening to the whole album plus featuring it on 4CRM's Sugar City Blues, I wasn't surprised when I heard Mr. PJ O'Brien won an award at the Sydney Blues Society's annual awards. Winners are then invited to compete in Memphis, USA at The International Blues Challenge held in February 2006.

Anyway, PJ (Paul Jefferson) sure can play guitar AND he's not bad looking either, eh girls… Another little gem on the album is 'Muleshoe New Mexico' - SRV lives! PJ had a lotta help on this album, recorded at A# Sharp Studios in Sydney with Ian Lees on Bass, Don Hopkins on keyboards & Jeff Cripps on drums. All songs were written by PJ O'Brien.

He's got 'A Home in my Heart'!. Great Blues! PJ deserves all the accolades he gets and I for one wish him luck at next year's International Blues Challenge.
- Canadian Cath, Sugar City Blues, Mackay, QLD Australia

"Blues from the Soul Album Review"

O'Brien "has bags of talent…his Strat mastery is impressive". - Mark Doherty, Rhythms Magazine, Australia

"PJ O'Brien Live Review"

"An exponent of a Texas juggernaut Blues that is arguably without equal in Sydney...O'Brien is a superlative guitarist!" - Danny Murphy, Editor in Chief, Revolver Magazine, Sydney

"Blues People Album Review"

Young Australian guitarist-singer PJ O'Brien delivers effective contemporary sounds on his solo debut Blues People (Black Market 300). His adequate vocals are reminiscent of Colin James; his guitar work is impressive, with a range of tones. Arrangements are uncluttered and the recording is crisp. The opener "Beauty Queen" suggests Albert Collins; the ballad "Bet You Don't" is slightly SRV-ish; "Muleshoe New Mexico" cites "Sweet Home Chicago"; and "Home in My Heart" (not Solomon Burke's tune) hints at Buddy Guy. This could be a favorite for those who enjoy Blues with tinges of rock and pop. O'Brien's a talent to watch. - Blues Revue (Tom Hyslop)


'Blues People', Black Market Music Australia
'Young Rider Blues' Compilation, Black Market Music Australia,



“O’Brien is a talent to watch!” Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue Magazine USA
“A superlative guitarist” Danny Murphy, FHM Australia
“The finest Strat tone Down Under!” JP Stratoblogster USA

*Best Blues Artist – Musicoz Awards (2004)
*Performer of the Year – Sydney Blues Society (2005)
*Best New Talent – Australian Blues Festival ‘Chain’ Awards (2006)
*Song of the Year – Australian Blues Festival ‘Chain’ Awards (2006)
*Sydney Blues Society Rep – International Blues Challenge, Memphis USA (2006)
*Semi-finalist – Compo10 International Blues Song writing Contest (2007)

Australian Blues sensation PJ O’Brien knows how to get a Blues party started. In the last few years his blistering fretwork has been turning heads from Perth to Memphis, Chicago, Austin, London, Singapore and back again. Along with frequent flyer points PJ has gathered a legion of new fans and a swag of awards: Blues Song of the Year, WA Music Awards (WAMIs); Music Oz Blues Artist of the Year; Sydney Blues Society Performer of the Year; Best New Talent and Song of the Year, ‘Chain’ Australian Blues Awards. Driven by a hard-edged Chicago/ Texas style guitar, PJ’s Blues are given a contemporary twist with award-winning song writing and soulful vocals. Tom Hyslop of Blues Review USA has named PJ ‘a talent to watch’. 2010 is set to be another big year with PJ returning to the studio to record the follow up to his award winning album ‘Blues People’ (Blackmarket Music).

PJ has been well and truly under the Blues spell ever since he saw Buddy Guy at the age of 17 at a local Perth hotel. Too young to get into the venue, PJ had to watch through the back door of the venue and was hooked. The self-taught guitarist has been chasing the live Blues feeling since he first took to the stage of the Perth Blues Club in 1992 – only a year after he was inspired to pick up a Strat. From these beginnings, PJ has played with the best of the best in Oz Blues. He has played multiple times at festivals such as Blues at Bridgetown (WA), the Narooma Blues Festival (NSW), the Gympie Muster (QLD) and the Australian Blues Music Festival (NSW), as well as countless venues around Australia and overseas including Singapore, London and the US.

In 2005 he was awarded the Sydney Blues Society Performer of the Year and the coveted position at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Following the release of his first solo, original album, Blues People, he won Best New Talent and Song of the Year at the 2006 ‘Chain’ Australian Music Awards.

PJ is a striking ambassador for Australian Blues. He is excited to be heading into the studio in Nov 2010 – following a full recovery from a career-threatening neck injury – to record an all-original follow up to his award-winning first solo release, Blues People (Blackmarket Music).