Dave Olson…ten years after
Way back in the old days, when No Depression came to you on paper instead of pixels, there was a brief review of Dave Olson’s first album in Issue #38 by Jim Musser. In describing the Iowa City short order cook, he wrote he plays “a minimalist blend of blue-collar folk, fat-string-guitar country, naked rockabilly and populist folk-rock.” Somewhere along the line Olson moved up I-35 and is now living in St. Paul, and he’s just released his third album No October.
Dave reached out to me because he’d read some stuff of mine about other folks from Iowa City, most recently Kelly Pardekooper and The Pines. Had he dug a little deeper in my own archives he’d have found plenty more too, from Bo Ramsey, his wife Pieta Brown and lots about my favorite photographer and great internet buddy Sandy Dyas. So he sent me a download link since I’m done with plastic, and finally five weeks later I’ve gotten around to posting something about this man and his new album.
Now what I’m about to do might seem to some as being a bit lazy, but actually I think it’s pretty cool. You see, it turns out that Jim Musser now slings words for the Iowa City Press-Citizen and I found his review of No October posted online. So as sort of a ‘ten years after No Depresssion-Dave Olson anniversary tribute’, here’s a bit what he wrote:
Sporting an agreeable, mellifluous tenor that ranges from bell-toned to slightly reedy, Olson works mainly in bluesy modern folk and post-’70s singer/songwriter balladry, but also can rock with conviction.
Released earlier this month, Olson’s third CD is a gorgeous, generously appointed set featuring stylish input from My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, The Pines’ Benson Ramsey, The Honeydogs’ keyboardist Peter Sands and — on a shimmering duet arrangement of Tom Waits’ “Georgia Lee” (the album’sonly cover) — the sublime Pieta Brown.
Drummer/producer Richard Medek assembles a rich aural canvas, and treasures are many, but don’t miss “So Long Blues,” the Freedy Johnston-worthy “Heart Breaking Down” and the heartland rocker “Before You Made Me Say Goodbye.
Hard to improve on Musser’s description and I’ve found myself coming back to this one again and again. Being a huge fan of Pieta Brown, I love the reworking of Tom Waits’ “Georgia Lee” and Dave says “This was one of the hardest songs for me to record, and getting my performance just right required a lot of coaxing from Richard Medek, my producer. His hard work paid off – the end result is a song that is at once spooky & atmospheric and emotional & plaintive. We started thinking of it as a modern-day ghost story set to music.”
Like many indie musicians in the new world order, Dave did a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this album. I love that he themed it “Bad luck is bound to fade”…and I sure hope it does. You can listen to No October here, and buy the download at the same time if you’d like. If you’re in the Twin Cities, hit up the Fetus. And if you’re an Amazonian or an Apple scruff, you can find it there too.