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As a child, before she knew how to put words on paper, Kat Hasty was singing and writing music. Born and raised in West Texas, her upbringing pours through her songwriting in tales of desert highways and the hustle and bustle of oil towns. Laced with heartache, joy, loss and female angst, her songs are ingenious and uniquely her own. The songwriter has released three EPs, a live session collection with OurVinyl, and two singles as of 2023, which has garnered support from all over the world. Talented and motivated, she is set to begin a long career sharing her stories and growing into the performer that she is fated to be.
“Maybe it’s the wrong glass ceiling to break, but I’m telling stories about the whole human experience of being a woman.”
That’s Harper O’Neill, sharing insight into the creation of her debut project, Dark Bar Daisy. It’s a gutsy assertion. But then again, O’Neill is an artist who’s always favored her intuition over trends. The Dallas-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter with the powerhouse voice and versatile musical chops found her way onto Music Row’s radar by trusting her gut and letting her considerable talent guide her, an increasingly rare path to success in a field crowded with hopefuls trying to recreate the sound of the moment.
After putting down roots in Nashville, O’Neill began finding ways into the local music scene, trying out co-writes and finding gigs to play around town. After posting a performance video to TikTok in 2022— far from being a regular TikToker, O’Neill had only dabbled with the platform — O’Neill got a text claiming to be from Jody Williams, the renowned publishing executive and former head of BMI known for working with everyone from Maren Morris to Carrie Underwood. Williams texted O’Neill on April 1st, so she couldn’t help but think it was a prank. They arranged a meeting for the following week and Williams signed O’Neill to his Jody Williams Songs on the spot.
While she had a stockpile of songs she’d written over the years, O’Neill didn’t feel strongly enough about the material to use it for her first project, so she started from scratch. That decision led to the gradual birth of Dark Bar Daisy. While her demos veered more closely to traditional acoustic instrumentation, O’Neill was adamant that she wanted horns on the record, which Gear made happen with the help of arranger Jordan Lehning. The addition of Lehning’s arrangements helped O’Neill fully realize the colorful, orchestral sonic vision she had for Dark Bar Daisy. “I was really excited to paint with all the brushes in the studio musically,” O’Neill says. “They’re really hip arrangements that Jordan did. We gave him tons of references, like Khraungbin, Silk Sonic, Lake Street Dive and some old soul references. That was the melting pot mix of sounds that I was that I was chasing.”
Dark Bar Daisy opens with “No Longer Mine,” the sole song O’Neill pulled from earlier material while making the LP. Instantly groovy thanks to a prominent, swaggering bass line, the track soon gives way to O’Neill’s dusky vocal, which lands somewhere between Ashley McBryde and Amy Winehouse. The title track is a subtle nod to Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard cut “Dark Bars,” with O’Neill’s own unique take on time spent in dives.