Mark Olson: Many Colored Kite (Ryko)

 |   |  1 min read

Mark Olson: Bluebell Song
Mark Olson: Many Colored Kite (Ryko)

As a founder member of the Jayhawks - and for the album '09 Ready for the Flood with former-Hawk Gary Louris -- Olson would always command a fair hearing, but this 11 track outing with roots of fingerpicking Anglofolk as much as Americana becomes a very difficult haul.

Although Olson seems to have put some of his demons behind him his vocals here are narrow in emotional range and often irritatingly dry so the album, as we say, "broadcasts on a narrow frequency".

Of interest however are little moves in the direction of The Incredible String Band when they slipped free of rigid constraints of the rhythmic pulse (the pastoral Morning Dove, one of the best things here), some songs which could have come from the pen of Daniel Johnston (the title track, No Time to Live Without Her), and Jolie Holland sounding like an alt.country Grace Slick in the background of Little Bird of Freedom.

Good to hear him get broody and menacing on the cello-embellished Kingsnake ("some highways are built on old paths, some are built where they never should be"), but in far too many places the arrangements for strings support and add emotional weight to songs which seem anxious to make a statement but are largely unengaging, and plaintive to the point of irritation (Scholastica).

Some will welcome the return of Olson and his folksiness, but even here on the guitar jangle of the alt.country Wind and Rain ("empty pockets are a part of love") this is undoubtedly heartfelt, but easy to pass by.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Whirimako Black/Richard Nunns: Te More (Rattle)

Whirimako Black/Richard Nunns: Te More (Rattle)

This gentle, hypnotic and spiritual album seems a natural consequence of all that has gone before from these two artists: Whirimako Black's moving songs in te reo (especially her exceptional Kura... > Read more

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

When the previous album by this one-time fellow traveller with Woody Guthrie and mentor to the young Bob Dylan arrived -- I Stand Alone of two years back  -- I had to admit I thought Elliott... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Replacements: Tim (1985)

The Replacements: Tim (1985)

The swaggering, often drunk Replacements hold such a firm place in many people's affections that singling out just one of their eight studio albums for attention is bound to irritate someone. Maybe... > Read more

STONEY AND THE JAGGED EDGE, UNEARTHED (2014): The Sixties sound of psychedelic garageband Detroit

STONEY AND THE JAGGED EDGE, UNEARTHED (2014): The Sixties sound of psychedelic garageband Detroit

Just when you think the library of the past has been fully illuminated, someone comes along and points to a low door in the wall which opens into a secret, dark room. And in there your torch... > Read more