David Olney – Evermore
This 15-cut release starts hot with a harmonica, atmospheric narration on the story of the “Big Top (Tornado)” with the late David Olney’s near-Ken Nordine style of narrating. This is nice stuff. Almost in the vein of the darker narratives of Tom Waits. Olney has expertise as well & bases his haunting dialogue on a circus tale as torrential rain begins to fall.
The Americana feel in his voice drips mystery with haunting tonality & high-lonesome spirits. Produced by Mary Sack & Pieter Groenveld in Holland Evermore (Drops May 13–Strictly Country Records) is beautifully recorded. It’s part of the Final Live In Holland Sessions 1 & features Daniel Seymour (bass/vocal) & Olney (vocal/guitars/harmonica).
The electrifying set is superb. “Train Wreck” has an old-fashioned melodic fervor that may have come from the days of acoustic guitar legend John Fahey who mined similar riches. The expertise in these performances is stellar. Some subjects are unorthodox, but this is what makes them valuable.
“Two-Bit Hood,” are criminals on the run who are going to take a chance & go into town for a good time. It’s charming, sad & sung with that gritty authenticity of a road bum, a hobo, a man who has seen life at its worst & its best. Olney had a commanding voice somewhat in a late Dave Van Ronk gruff, but Olney’s voice was a bit more melodic.
David had a 40+ year career, known to many famous artists & if it’s true John Prine is a national treasure – the likes of David Olney should be included in that introduction. Listening to these songs will easily allow one to become addicted to the Olney universe.
The 76-minute CD is filled with indelible songs with no honey poured over for sweetness. These songs were recorded at concerts from 2016-2018. It was the late legendary Townes van Zandt who alerted Pieter in Holland that Olney was coming. The only thing I would’ve done differently on this LP is making “Evermore” the last cut on the CD.
The dreaming with your eyes open tale of “A Dangerous Man,” is an excellent narrative about Lawrence of Arabia. This goes beyond mere folk songs. Some were co-written with John Hadley, Gwil Owen, Kim Richey & Daniel Seymour with 3 covers – “I Still Miss Someone,” a Johnny Cash song, “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness,” by John Prine & “For The Sake of the Song,” by Townes.
Olney passed away on stage mid-song during his 2nd set at the 30A Songwriter Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida in Jan. 2020. He just said, “I’m sorry,” during “Bluebonnet Girl,” closed his eyes & never dropped his guitar. Fitting departure.
B&W photo: Scott Housley Photos. The final CD of the 8-LP collection “Nevermore” comes June 10th. CD available @ https://davidolney.com/product/783157