A performance by Jamie O'Brien is never what it seems. His eclectic approach to music brings unexpected and welcome surprises to his audiences. In the middle of an Irish set, you might hear a powerful version of "Walk Away Renee" or find yourself being moved by an emotional rendition of Buddy Holly's "Learning the Game". Reggae and Hawaiian music often find a home in his performances. Jamie leans back into his extensive repertoire and diverse life experiences to bring an entertaining and moving show to his followers, new and old. Now, he demonstrates another facet of his many talents with a new album featuring songs he has written or co-written over the years. "All of these songs have already seen the light of day in that I've sung them during performances of other kinds of music", he says. "Sometimes, after a heavy Irish ballad, it's fun to lighten up with maybe one of my own happier songs. Conversely, a set of jigs, followed by a set of reels is nicely broken up with some depressing, end-of-the-world thing I've written," he says with a rye smile. "The album's called 'Chasing Ghosts' - that wasn't the working title. It's just that when I'd finished and was preparing the liner notes and writing out the lyrics, a common theme that ran through everything seemed to hit me. I think I've spent my whole life - and written about it - going after things that are not really there. "As a teenager, I 'fell madly in love' with Daisy. I could never say anything to her, she was way out of my class; but I guess I tried to tell her through the songs I was writing on my own and with friends. Over time, I've traveled from place to place, country to country - I've always felt at home wherever I was, but kept looking over the hedge at the next green field. Sometimes I think life is this incredible thing - you're always on the move, one place to another, one group to the next and so on. And you always carry with you what was before, even when the next project looms and you go off chasing the next ghost." This collection of 17 songs (plus a bonus track) demonstrates Jamie's immense ability to feel at home in a variety of genres - folk, rock, reggae, country and more - styles he has played in at different stages of his life. His poignant lyrics tell stories and carry emotions that will resonate. From a breaking heart ("Our Winter Love") to anger ("Didn't Have a Clue"), from resignation ("Loser Train") to despair ("Janey's Song"), Jamie's "delicate, simple tenor voice" (Harrisburg Patriot-News) carries these feelings with meaning and relevance. Yet, this is far from a depressing, introverted album; there are also positive thoughts: optimism ("Sunday Serenade"), reconciliation ("Don't Look Back"), togetherness ("Mother Bird") and pure unadulterated love ("I Slipped"). It's all about life. Jamie regards music as a collaboration. Though a fine guitarist himself, he is more than willing to step back and appreciate the varied approaches of his musical friends: the blues of Phil Borzillo, the new country/swing of Henry Koretzky and the rock and pop influences of Paul McKeown are all present on guitar; accordion and Hammond organ are played by ex-Mollys' Gary Mackender (who also does the artwork on the CD); reflecting the Mexican and American influences of Tucson are trumpeters Jon Villa and Dillon Barr; long-time musical partners from Pennsylvania, Ryck Kaiser and Bruce Campbell add their talents on violin and bass; and two noted vocalists - Dede Wyland and Jenny Ford - sing along. But perhaps the best collaboration is shown by the production. Jamie links up again with multi-instrumentalist and engineer Paul McKeown to co-produce the CD. 'Chalk and Cheese' would be a good name for their work: Jamie arrives with a song, sings it and explains the history behind it; Paul listens and begins to create a mosaic of sounds as each instrument and voice takes it's place. The London-Irishman and the Scotsman have a way of expressing their thoughts so that the other immediately latches on. And before you know it, a new track evolves, completely capturing the emotion and depth of the song. Seventeen times, this happened ... in reality, 18 times, as neither of two versions of one song could be discarded - hence, the bonus track, a second version of "Alison", the standout chronicle of an ill-fated affair. And now, Jamie is ready to hit the road again, presenting "Chasing Ghosts" to the world at large. Songs performed by an entertaining, talented group of musicians, will resonate and connect. Bring on the shows.