Sunday, November 09, 2008

by Peter

David Olney - Roses (1991)

Rhode Island-born but now a Nashville-based writer, David Olney is well
respected for his fine-tuned lyrics. ~ Richard Meyer, All Music Guide

David Olney - High, Wide and Lonesome (1995)

David Olney's career has included forays into hard-edged roots-rock, quiet, introspective acoustic folk, and everything in between. The one constant has been his abilty to write concise, masterfully crafted and memorable songs. High, Wide and Lonesome represents simultaneously the most consistently strong and diverse selection of songs collected on any of Olney's albums. In addition, his performances are perhaps the best of his career, his voice striking a perfect balance between the bluesy swagger of Spider John Koerner and the intense, whiskey-soaked warblings of Townes Van Zandt. The backing musicians are uniformly excellent as well. Highlights include Rick Danko's funky bassline on "My Family Owns This Town," as well as guest performances throughout the album from several other alumni of the Band. The above-mentioned song and the preceding track, "Another Place, Another Time," are interesting in that each deals with the same small-town murder from a different point of view. In one song, the narrator is the deceased's spurned husband, in the other, her secret lover. Unusual twists of this kind are a specialty of Olney's and make High, Wide and Lonesome a must-have for anyone interested in thoughtful, yet raw and powerful folk music. ~ Pemberton Roach, All Music Guide

David Olney - Omar's Blues (2000)

David Olney - Migration (2005)

Migration, David Olney's 16th album, is a typical effort for him, one in which he constructs story-songs and inhabits various characters. Lyrically speaking, the chief innovations are that he has taken more of an interest in speaking on behalf of non-human characters, particularly birds ("Lenora"), and that he is more interested than usual in singing about love. Of course, personifying a bird isn't all that much of a stretch for a man who once wrote a song in the role of an iceberg ("Titanic"), but the love songs are a bit unusual, and it's notable that Olney is usually a co-author with someone else on them. Musically, he seems to have taken his cue largely from Bob Dylan's Desire, employing a violin, played by Deanie Richardson, to shadow his vocals much as Dylan had Scarlet Rivera do on that album. On a couple of songs, however, as he also did on 2003's The Wheel, Olney looks more to Tom Waits of the Swordfishtrombones and later period, taking a junkyard rock approach on "Speak Memory" and especially "Upside Down." While there is nothing wrong with this album, it is more one for the faithful than for new fans. With his gruff, relatively inexpressive voice, Olney is something of an acquired taste, and this is an album that requires several listenings to sink in, at which point it fits in with the rest of the catalog but does not rise above it. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

David Olney - Leonora (2006)



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