BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
From Michael with Love
By Jennifer E. Jones
Freeport, Bahamas “When I’m next to you / I’m beside myself / Why the change? / It has to be / What love has done to me” – Michael O’Brien, “What Love Has Done”
It’s not easy to miss Michael O’Brien. As I spot him across the busy dining room aboard the Celebration Carnival cruise ship, he towers over most of the serving staff. Not to mention that he is one of few men invited on the Girl’s Get-A-Way Cruise, courtesy of Premier Christian Cruises. With his brown and blonde spiked hair and charming smile, I immediately recognize him as 1/5 of the CCM powerhouse group, NewSong.
These days, O’Brien wants to be known for something more. Having left the group early in 2006, the smooth vocalist has stayed below the media radar for quite some time. Little did we know, he was cooking up something spicy in the studio.
“I felt God was calling me to encourage couples,” O’Brien says of his departure from NewSong. “What I’ve gone through with my wife… We almost divorced six years ago, and then we worked through our problems. Over the years, God was giving me new passions. I wasn’t able, with NewSong, to talk about those things.”
O’Brien says that God gave him the vision years ago, and it planted the seed for his solo album. Something About Us released in January of 2007 with 14 tracks of Michael Buble-esque vocal jazz and smooth R&B – all celebrating the union between husband and wife. It’s a surprising, delightful departure from his former claim to fame.
“I didn’t listen to the old songs to steal from them,” he explains. “It came out of knowing my wife loves that nostalgic music. These songs just started coming out.”
He pulled on his old Sinatra influences, but O'Brien says that most of his inspiration came from “a heart overflowing with love” for his wife.
“Sometimes it may be hot handle / Sometimes it keeps me up at night / So smooth, so rich, so steamy / It just warms me up inside” – Michael O’Brien, “Low Fat Latte"
He not only shares his love for the lady in his life, but also for another sweet thing that many people love as well.
“The old latte song,” he exclaims with a laugh. “Before I wrote ‘Low Fat Latte’, I went to the guy who was helping me write the lyric. I didn’t want a coffee song. I want a latte song. These days, it’s lattes; some people love espresso. My love for my wife… there are some similarities. A lot of people have enjoyed that song.”
The song was courted by Starbucks for its mellow groove and steamed milk adoration. O’Brien hopes that “Low Fat Latte” and all of Something About Us will attract people inside and outside of the Christian music industry.
“Take in your voice / Breathe in your hair / A cinematic vision / Pardon if I stare” – Michael O’Brien, “Beautiful You”
“The story behind this is the power behind it,” he shares. “In this day and age, marriage is the minority. All these different relationships popping up whether it’s same-sex or just living together, there’s a real need for our culture to hear that there are men and women out there who are committed to the Lord Jesus. That love that comes from God [makes us] a wonder to the world.”
CCM has danced around romantic songs for years. Some great artists took the subject head-on such as Michael W. Smith (“Love of My Life”), Amy Grant (“Baby, Baby”), and Steven Curtis Chapman (“How Do I Love Her”). However, it has never been a focus in Christian music. O’Brien hopes that will change.
“We’re not singing about it,” he says. “This is one of many that will come in the future.”
As he blazes a trail for Christian artists and couples alike, O’Brien has one message he wants to spread: “You can be in love, and there is hope.”
Want to hear more about O’Brien’s thoughts on marriage and how to put the romance back in your relationship? Read his bonus interview.
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