Jeffery James O’Loughlin: Going off the Deep End

Paul Whyte


On Saturday during last week’s Homegrown, singer-songwriter, Jeffery James O’Loughlin, shared his music to a strong crowd at Sir Benedict’s. The show was also a CD release celebration for his latest album “Going Off the Deep End,” which is the seventh album that O’Loughlin has put out.  
O’Loughlin has been in the Duluth area since 1999 and eventually met people through Beaner’s Central which furthered his involvement in the area’s music scene. When asked when he first started getting into music, O’Loughlin replied, “since the day I was born, both of my parents were into music‚Ķmy dad showed me how to play the chords and I leapt from there.”
The album carries a sincerity and sad beauty that is undeniable. Usually O’Loughlin’s songs tend to incorporate solid song writing, but they also hold a certain uplifting and rebellious feel to them. This album is sometimes upbeat and a little rowdy with songs like “Going Off the Deep End,” but with the first song, “January,” it is a song of winter loss and grief. O’Loughlin lost his father, his uncle, his mother in law and dog within one year that he put this album together. “I had nothing else to do but make this record, I had to get that down. All this stuff I’ve been through, just get it down to explain it to myself.” This album lies somewhere in the realm of Smashing Pumpkins “Adore” and Toby Thomas Churchill’s “Death.” It has a very sentimental and emotional feeling that is mixed with honest yet sometimes quirky songwriting. “This is the first time I ever made a record to try to make sense of what was going on. Before I just made records because I had songs in my head that just wouldn’t leave me alone until I recorded it,” said O’Loughlin.
The first two tracks, “January” and “The Ballad of Laurence Quimbly” are driven by melancholy and fairly senitmental piano and synth arrangements. This ends up being contrasted with songs like “Clyde” which is a sort of jangly pseudo-country “tear in your beer” song, about O’Loughlin’s dog that passed away (saloon style piano included). “How am I going to on? I’m so sad. Today I lost the best friend I’ve ever had,” goes a part of the chorus.
James recorded the album in his basement with a 8-track digital recorder and 4-track tape recorder. Everything on the album was engineered, produced and mastered by him. I normally would say that this is risky business for an official relase, but in this case with songs like “Am I Really Doomed,” the rawness of the vocals might not have had the same effect if it had been a perfectly polished recording. Artists such as Ryan Van Slooten have done the DIY (do it yourself) method and have pulled it off wonderfully and this album can be considered a DIY success. There are a fair amount of things like reverb (echo) and delay on O’Loughlin’s vocals that add to the emotional feel of this album, which in every way holds on to a unique realness that is also quite accessible.
In the short interview we had with O’Loughlin, we began to talk about where songs come from and the creation process of how the human mind make ideas. “Songs are people, they might be, and they’re coming from somewhere else. As musicians, you pick up on them and you’re like a radio, you play them. And you play them as they come into your head and they’re speaking through you,” said O’Loughlin. “I was told I would never be a good songwriter when I was young because all the good songs had already been written‚ĶI never bought into that, I went ahead and did my own thing.”
Overall, O’Louglin’s latest album displays how he does his own thing.
As a performer he doesn’t seek anything but to be real; he has no webpage, Facebook or email. His music speaks for itself and is at a point where he is a musician’s musician and anyone who appreciates music should be quick to realize that what he does is amazing and stands out despite his online obscurity.
Those interested in getting this album should show up to a show or snail mail P.O. Box 3599 in Duluth, MN 55803. CDs cost whatever you think it’s worth. I’m sure he’d appreciate at least the cost of postage.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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