David Olney & Anana Kaye – Whispers and Sighs
Lyrically, one of the most original, clever marriages between words & music I’ve heard in ages. I’m not surprised — it was the work of the late David Olney (d. Jan 2020). But for anyone who can appreciate songwriting & sing with creativity & feeling – this is a dead sea scroll.
With the first cut, it’s as if Olney knew sand was running out. He passed away while the CD was in its final mixing stage.
“My Favorite Goodbye,” is dynamic. The cello, tinkling piano & Olney’s warm vocal. Excellent melody & the entire showcase is emotionally rich. This is what good songwriting is about. No cliches.
Dropping March 19th is David’s final CD accompanied by the brilliant young Eastern European (Georgia) powerhouse folk singer Anana Kaye (Whispers and Sighs – Independent) with her husband Irakli Gabriel (guitars/backing vocals/arrangement). She compliments David (acoustic guitar) so well throughout. The 3rd track “My Last Dream of You,” is Emmylou Harris-like & is effectively breathy, yet, Anana adds stark vocal beauty.
The musicianship throughout is marvelous. David even adds a rocker “Lie to Me, Angel.” Potent, with excellent lyrics in a John Hiatt/Richard Thompson style. The gnarling guitar is dramatic. In the end, Olney dives deep into a vocal reminiscent of the late John Martyn on his expressive (“John Wayne”). They would’ve worked well together.
Anana (piano/keyboards/melodica/string & vocal arrangements), Chris Benelli (drums), Daniel Seymour, Chris Donohue & Seth Ondracek (basses), Dick Aven (saxes), Kristen Englenz (French horn), & Rosemary Fossee (vocals).
“Thank You Note,” with its gypsy violin delves into a modern-day noir-cabaret style often used by Tom Waits. It touches upon a Brecht-Weill flavor with Marianne Faithful vocalese.
Olney’s lyrics are always sharp, fluent & lovely as on “Behind Your Smile.” It showcases a gentle Austin Hoke (cello), & Derek Pell (violin) & would be a good cover for Jon Mark (Mark-Almond Band) who has a romantic sad voice known for these types of songs.
The collaboration between Olney & Kaye was miraculous. I couldn’t find a weak song in 13 cuts. “Why Can’t We Get This Right,” finds Kaye with a lighter edgier touch. Similar in tone to Lisa Marie Presley but better. Lisa does not have this kind of songwriting finesse & lacks Anana’s poignancy.
“Last Days of Rome,” has a grinding Keith Richards/Rolling Stones guitar riff that crackles. Arana rocks brilliantly with brass accentuations. Superb. Her high notes are reminiscent of Grace Slick. Olney injects his deep voice briefly for contrast & she returns it with a soaring sax & exultant vocal. It paid off for me handsomely with a wide smile on my face.
Criticism? Where’s the lyric insert? The 49-minute LP was produced by Brett Ryan Stewart with the duo & Irakli.
Olney left behind a wonderful musical legacy that includes Whispers and Sighs.