Jennifer O'Connor on George Michael
Jennifer O'Connor (photo by Amy Bezunartea, PR)
June is Pride month and for Album ReCue, WFUV has asked LGBTQ+ musicians to tell us about their most loved albums — those releases that inspired, soothed, empowered or galvanized them as artists. Jennifer O'Connor looks back 31 years to George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Listen to Alisa Ali's conversation with O'Connor in the player above.
Jennifer O'Connor wears many hats: She's a singer and songwriter, runs the label Kiam Records, and is the co-owner of a record store, Main Street Beat in Nyack, New York. One of her favorite albums is George Michael's 1990 album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, his second solo album.
"This record really coincided with my own burgeoning interest in playing music myself, and thinking about songs as more than just entertainment," O'Connor told me in our "Album ReCue" conversation. Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 revealed his more pensive side, with introspective and sincere songs.
"He wasn't out yet and the internal struggle is palpable," observes O'Connor. "At the time that it was out, I was a closeted young person then and I didn't know that he was gay, but I knew. You know what I mean? It's all there, all of that pain, searching and joy. There's just so much there."
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 is definitely a more somber affair than Michael's solo debut, 1987's Faith, and anything he released as part of Wham!. There is a timeless gravity and elegance to this album's songs, like the single "Praying for Time." In fact "timeless" is one of the six adjectives that O'Connor used to describe the album's sound and impact, the balance being: "Brave, honest, searching, experimental and masterful."
O'Connor aims for all six adjectives herself when she releases her next album later this year. More details to follow in August, but O'Connor says that Michael's influence is definitely part of the fabric of her new songs.
WFUV's Album ReCue: George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1