Ossy Oneal – Taylor Swift’s Stairway
Twenty year old Ossy Oneal has felt the lure of other callings, but music remained his first love throughout it all. He began singing in earnest at the age of six years old, recorded his first song at twelve years old, and began producing and songwriting as a teenager. During this same time in his life, however, Oneal’s stature as a talented athlete grew so significant that he was offered athletic scholarships and turned those down in favor of an academic scholarship that allowed him to devote time to his studies and plan for a future in the entertainment and music industry. His talents cross multiple styles and he’s just as home working in a hip hop vein as he is applying his skills to pop or R&B. His latest single “Taylor Swift’s Stairway” is an unexpectedly affecting number demonstrating a range and charisma shared by few performers of his ilk.
The centerpiece of the composition is, naturally, Oneal’s vocals are obviously built to handle a wide range of material, but he sticks to a traditional R&B approach over a backing track that clearly pays homage to the form. The “brass” sounds introduced into the track via electronic instruments don’t quite sound like the real deal, but there’s enough warmth in their presentation that suspension of disbelief is possible and they end up enhancing the song rather than cutting against its quality. The truly human quality about this track comes from the sensitive and powerful vocal treatment Oneal provides and the absolute earnestness of his words. This is, by any definition, a love song, but the specificity of his adoration and her mainstream visibility might distract some listeners from the song’s core identity. Oneal’s aching emotiveness, however, leaves no doubt about the song’s emotional tenor.
The backing track, as mentioned, makes great use of electronics to produce its instrumental effects. Percussion is important part of what makes it work. There’s an intensely rhythmic style introduced from nearly the beginning that hints at hip hop influences, but it never ventures too far off in that direction. Instead, the percussion gives the song a bounce that might be otherwise lacking from traditional R&B material and seems to inspire Oneal to greater heights than he might reach on his own. Some might think the song runs on a little too long and Oneal might have served the song better to curtail it within three and a half to four minutes. This isn’t a big deal however. “Taylor Swift’s Stairway” is the work of a truly idiosyncratic singer and songwriter who thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid of leaving himself vulnerable for a mass audience. Ossy Oneal may be working, right now, along the margins of the indie scene, but this 20 year old singer, producer, songwriter, and performer won’t be found on the margins for much longer.