My image of Mark Olson and Victoria Williams is utterly romantic and perhaps indelibly linked to an understanding of how seriously they must take the “better/worse, sickness/health” portion of their marriage vows. They inspire and comfort me on several levels; musically, they thrill me. Let me count the ways, as displayed on the fourth Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers album.
Startlingly lush for a homespun recording (it features such talents as Greg Leisz on electric guitar, Don Heffington on drums, Barrett Martin on vibes and Mike Russell on violin and mandolin), yet economical in its ten-song, 38-minute scope, Someone To Talk With is a celebration of the unhurried pace, the sense-memory, and the shared life. In “Rainbow Of Your Heart”, for example, amid a low-key, bluesy, almost Neil Youngish groove, Olson offers the sparest, most illuminating commentary: “If you look now, you’ll see I’m on your side/Each cloud that passes us by, trying to find the rainbows of your heart…Hurry home and I’ll show you that I care”. On the chiming Byrds/Petty-ish title track, Olson and Williams, in perfectly, elegantly disheveled harmony, suggest there’s nothing so important as just being with “someone who knows most of what you need.”
Other tunes are equally rewarding, from the good-timey fiddlin’ of “Ben Johnson’s Creek”, to the twangy waltz of “Diamond Davey”, to the ’50s-style R&B/gospel vibe running through “Letter From Africa”. All offer rich musical and philosophical meditations guaranteed to push the daily clutter aside. Sweet relief, indeed.
In the booklet of Williams’ last album, 1998’s Musings Of A Creekdipper, there’s a black-and-white portrait of her grandparents as a handsome young married couple. In my mind, it could just as well be Olson and Williams, beaming and so obviously in love. So I think about this new record now, in particular its title, as I approach the 20th anniversary of my own vows. And I realize that’s what it’s about, a simple wisdom, really — having someone to talk with.