Emerge

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“A mercurial talent, Jessica has created songs with real depth. Listening to the album is a full-bodied experience: theatrical and intimate, operatic and haunting, raw and urgent, at once dark and contemplative and inspiring. It's pop music with a difference.” – Ashleigh Wilson, Arts Editor at The Australian

Flow

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“Hypnotic, powerful and haunting. The vocals remind me of Sarah Blasko, soaring with an unrestrained strength. The production has so much depth, and a uniquely raw edge that keeps me completely captivated. It’s safe to say that I’m a fan.” – Delia Bartle, Journalist – Indie Shuffle

Parachute

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“This was a standout. Hypnotic composition, skillful delivery.” – Jessie Cunniffe (Music Critic for Rolling Stone Magazine)

Run Away

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Jessica’s debut EP Emerge is a remarkable statement of intent from a singer confident in her own sound. It was recorded and produced in Sydney by Neal Sutherland, an ARIA-award winning artist who has worked with the likes of Bertie Blackman, Jack Ladder, Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington, Josh Pyke, Julian Hamilton (Presets) and Sophie Lowe.

From the sweeping soundscapes of Parachute to the wistful allure of Stay With Me, to the inspiring track Lift that lingers long after the music has stopped, it’s clear that Emerge is an album like no other.


Jessica O’Donoghue likes to call herself a reformed opera singer. Trained as a soprano, she came to love many things about opera: the soaring sounds, the scale of performances, the intensity of emotions. But something wasn’t quite right. She had developed a formidable technique over the years – she was invited, for instance to Covent Garden as a guest young artist – but the world of opera made her feel restricted and restless. So she went looking for something new.

Emerge, her debut album, is the result of that search.

“I like to capture my audience and take them on a journey,” she says. “Traditional opera is too focused on the past, and there’s not enough room for interpretation. I knew I had to leave opera to feed my creativity.”

More than a decade has passed since Jessica turned her back on an opera career to pursue eclectic musical experiences bound only by imagination. Her projects ranged from pop music, particularly with the Sydney band CODA, to jazz, cabaret, musical theatre, Renaissance music and (yes) contemporary opera. Her many collaborators include Nick Wales, Jane Tyrell, Jared Underwood, Bree Van Reyk and Alyx Dennison. She has performed in festivals and venues around the world including VIVID Festival, Sydney Festival (Opera House), Adelaide Festival (Adelaide Festival Centre), Melbourne International Arts Festival (Malthouse), Movimentos Festival (Wolfsburg), Georgetown Festival (Penang), and multiple festivals around Europe (Luxembourg, Stockholm, Ludwigsburg and Ludwigshafen) while continuing to pursue fresh ways to tell stories through music.

For Jessica, Emerge has been a chance to reconcile some of her many influences, from opera to contemporary pop to Sephardic Mediaeval music. There are synths, loops and strings, as well as acoustic piano and guitars. Putting aside the fine details, though, this is how Jessica describes her inspiration:

“I am fascinated with our inner journey through life. The highs, the lows, and how we navigate our way between the two states. Life is what it is for each of us, and we all have to gather our tools for coping as we go along. Writing music is one of my tools and I enjoy the experience of analysing my inner-world as I process it through the act of creating music. These songs are a small window into my inner life as a woman, an artist, a mother, and a human being. I try to write in a way that is very exposed and honest and that seems to help people connect more intimately with the songs.”

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