The Album -
Truth or Dare
Review by Jenny Tingle – Freelance writer and musician
Truth Or Dare is everything a Hard Rock album should be. Guitarist, singer and songwriter Johnny O’Neil has gathered a powerful band behind him for his debut solo album - a local supergroup of veteran musicians from the Twin Cities, Minnesota.
The album’s title, “Truth Or Dare” is perhaps a nod towards O’Neil’s previous band, Dare Force. Dare Force opened for rock band royalty including KISS, and toured all over the American continent. Reuniting with former Dare Force bandmate, Brian Bart (recording and production), and with the addition of drummer Joachim Baecker and Danny Peyronel on keys, Johnny O’Neil had a formidable pool of talent at his disposal to launch this impressive solo debut.
Truth Or Dare is an album made by musicians who helped build the foundations of what Rock music is today. They’ve been inspired by The Beatles, pioneered Hard Rock with bands like Kansas, and witnessed the birth of Heavy Metal. Every track contains glimpses of different moments in Rock Music history. Lovers of lead guitar will particularly enjoy Truth or Dare. O’Neil is an adept guitarist, and he doesn’t hold back!
Opening track, “Snake In the Grass” sets the tone for this guitar-driven album, storming in with fist-pumping riffs. It’s good, honest Rock n Roll from the outset - soul-bearing and loud.
Standout track, “Ode to Mark” is a song I want to know more about. Incredibly, Johnny O’Neil originally wrote “Ode to Mark” when he was just 16 years old. When this sensitive and intricate guitar instrumental plays, I can’t help but sit still and listen. It’s the most understated track of Truth Or Dare, and has the most emotional impact for me. Spare and enigmatic, the lone acoustic guitar makes for a though- provoking mid-album track.
“Revolution” is a Beatles cover which O’Neil has made his own, clearly loving every second of playing it.
“World Run Amuck” is a lead guitarist’s dream. Johnny O’Neil goes wild here doing what he does best, with layers of harmonies and solos while Baecker provides explosive support on drums. It’s a triumphant and fun ending to an album showcasing all the best elements of Rock n Roll, and the joy of a whole lifetime spent playing and creating music.