Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


MARK OLSON

The Salvation Blues

(HACKTONE/RYKODISC) www.hacktone.com

This is the tale of a man set loose and wandering, through places like Cardiff, Bristol, and Poland, with time on his hands to accept, regret, and realise that things change. Experiences that engender a solo album finding the former Jayhawk in powerful, poetic mode presenting songs influenced by folk, literature, and experience.

“There’s such joy and sweet moments to be found in this world”, he sings in the title track and that understanding outweighs all the partings. Though so often Olson sings with a catch in his throat and there’s plenty of loss here; his wife (though that’s unspoken), his father (‘Keith’), and Sandy Denny. Denny, with her own song and who “wore a schoolgirl’s uniform”, standing for all the hopes of youth that life undoes

Produced by Ben Vaughn, and featuring players of the calibre of Tony Gilkyson and Greg Leisz, it’s classic-sounding alt.country retaining the feel of newness, promise, and sheer intelligence that flourished a decade ago. From the opening love song, ‘My Carol’, worshipful like ‘She Belongs To Me’, adorned with lines like “My love is like a speckled bird”, your heart is opened.

Moments of epiphany are scattered throughout; on ‘Clifton Bridge’, waiting for the ‘National Express’, and whoever thought a British bus could sound as romantic as a Greyhound? But possibly bettered by a moment of reunion; the joyful ‘Poor Michael’s Boat’, an unfinished Jayhawks’ song from long ago, now completed and sung in harmony with Gary Louris.

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