Listen Up: Wednesday, May 04, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
David Olney

Migration (Loud House Records)

By Tom Geddie

David Olney’s deep, often dark folk-based songs are essentially theatrical studies told from the viewpoints of a range of popular characters, from the biblical Barabbas to the outlaw Jesse James to the actor John Barrymore and beyond. Like his Wheels c.d. from 2003, Migration is thematically built around various meanings of the title.
All of this may sound precious, but Olney is legit — Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, and Linda Rondstadt are among many well-known artists who have covered one or more of his songs.
Starting with the opening track, “The Song,” which compares the creative process to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Olney takes us into other people’s worlds through his own imagination, soulful voice, and splendid yet spare arrangements. The funky closer, “Upside Down,” co-written with frequent collaborator John Hadley, is “gospel song from a parallel universe,” according to the liner notes. “Lenora” is a love song about a migrating bird whose mate is killed, and it’s much more meaningful than any wordy description could suggest. “My Lovely Assistant,” co-written with Hadley, is a crazed magician’s spiel to his audience. “Oh Lord,” written by Rebecca Hall and one of two Migration tracks not written by Olney, is a country song about a death row prisoner who’s not prepared to die.
Olney himself even makes a few appearances — either that, or he’s the nameless character in all of us. You can find him in at least three less-than-optimistic love songs. In one, he says that he’s written some hopeful ones in the past, but “most of them just weren’t any good.”
This is the Rhode Island-born, long-time Nashville-based songwriter’s second c.d. for the Austin-based Loud House label, and it’s his best yet.— Tom Geddie


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