EVERMORE (Live in Holland)
Strictly Country Records
While We Await a Long Overdue Retrospective This Live Recording will More Than Suffice.
Oh man! It genuinely broke my heart when I heard the news that David Olney had died on stage in early 2020.
I came late to the party; only discovering his immense talent with the WHEN THE DEAL GOES DOWN in 2014; and only ever got to see him play live (alongside Sergio Webb) at a cruelly under attended venue the following year …. but he’s right up there in my Top 10 of singer-songwriters; and ahead of many household names!
One of the key things I love about Olney’s work is that it’s eclectic; which is the best way to introduce this 7th album in a series of 8 live albums recorded in Holland in 2016, by Pieter Groenveld, Founder of Strictly Country Records.
The opening track the captivation Big Top is less a song and more a Talking Blues or even a poem set to music, with delicate bass from Daniel Seymour and a harsh harmonica accompaniment from David as he tells a dark tale that may or may not be a metaphor for the political leanings of the USA around that time ….. or just a plain and simple exotic story of a Circus on tour!
As the track fades to a close you hear a few seconds of applause before the first of the ‘real’ songs; Train Wreck kicks in; featuring David pretending to be a train and his relationship being a ‘train wreck’ but he loves her anyway.
The quality of Groeneveld’s production is so sharp you’d be forgiven for not realising that this is actually a ‘Live Recording’ and the lack of applause makes this even more of a ‘keeper’ as usually with live albums the stories between tracks can quickly become boring; although Olney’s stories are/were actually fabulous … but you get my point?
Personally I only recognised a couple of Olney’s songs here; with quite a few being dusted off from his earlier releases; Always a Stranger/I Miss Someone, Thing Of Beauty and a personal favourite of mine; A Dangerous Man, which does start with David eloquently explaining that the song is about T.E Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia; which I don’t think I previously knew.
So it’s been a beautiful few days of discovery with the staggeringly beautiful Take Me With You (When You’re Gone); the prescient Always a Stranger a Refugee and the stunning co-write with RMHQ favourite Kim Richey; Love Is being new to my ears, but now carefully put away for a day when I simply need to hear them again.
As always; David casually drops in some covers to his set; some more obvious than others of course; with no surprises that the set closes with his version of Townes Van Zandt’s For The Sake of The Song; but who among us would expect to hear The Zombie’s 1960’s Hit She’s Not There being seamlessly included inside Stand Tall?
Not many; but it works a whole lot better than it should.
With so many great songs to choose from; I’ve settled on three to find one winner.
I doubt I’ve ever heard a bad rendition of John Prine’s Speed of The Sound of Loneliness; but here David Olney digs deep into the crevices of the heart of the song and squeezes your heartstrings until you can hardly draw breath.
David unleashes his inner Folk Troubadour with Situation/Don’t Try to Fight It and with the cracks in his voice at the fore; this isn’t in any way ‘easy listening’ in any way ….. but I love it anyway.
A lot easier on the ear is Two Bit Hood; a modernish tale not too far away from the Bonnie and Clyde story as if written by Tom Waits; and here David brings it up to date with two unnamed characters living outside the law; a low-rent girl and the Two Bit Hood himself ….. and in my humble opinion one of the finest works he’s ever produced; making it my Favourite Song on a rather exceptional album.