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Lisa O'Neill: Tiny Desk Concert

Drones abound, and a pensive atmosphere filled the office when Lisa O'Neill and her bandmates began one of my favorite songs of 2023, "Old Note." The deep, harmonic drones comprise a bowed hammer dulcimer, a shruti box, a harmonium and a bowed upright bass. Then the Irish singer's plaintive voice tells a tale she describes as "orality" and "how we communicated before we started writing stuff down. It's a song also about hearing the music in nature.

There are many ways to conjure joy with music. Some aim for party music, with uplifting beats that get your body moving, but Lisa O'Neill walks a different path. For her joy is about connecting with the plants, the animals, and our surroundings and feeling grateful for the world around us.

The songs performed here come from her 2023 album All of This Is Chance. The music is stark and cerebral, the voice singular and personal with few flourishes, and I find it captivating. With all the weight of stories and song, there are moments of cheer, especially on the one non-album track, "When Cash Was King." Here, we're talking robots and King Charles and a nod to the cusp of change we witness daily.


  • "Old Note"  
  • "Silver Seed" 
  • "When Cash Was King"
  • "Goodnight World"   

  • Lisa O'Neill: vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonium, shruti box
  • Joe Doyle: double bass 
  • Brian Leach: hammer dulcimer 
  • Mic Geraghty: shruti box, harmonium  

  • Producer: Bob Boilen 
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter 
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Sofia Seidel
  • Audio Assistant: Josephine Nyounai 
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Catie Dull
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Kara Frame, Hazel Cills
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.