Mark Olson – The Salvation Blues

Mark Olson – The Salvation Blues / 2007 Hacktone / 11 Tracks / / /

“The Salvation Blues” is a weirdly-packaged album. When I first opened up the package from Hacktone, I thought they had screwed up and sent me a book instead of the latest Mark Olson CD. A quick check later, and I was on my way to listening to what is one of the more impressive new, alternative-tinged country music of the last few years. Mark Olson, some might know, founded both the Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers and The Jayhawks. While short (barely clocking in at 36 minutes), the tracks present on “The Salvation Blues” will stick with listeners for a long time to come.

The first track on the disc is “My Carol”, a slower, vocal-dominated track that could be created anytime in the last fifty years of American music. It is this timeless quality that will get individuals most excited about Olson; Olson follows in a tradition that is populated by individuals like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and even more rock-oriented individuals like Neil Young and Tom Petty. “Clifton Bridge” is a slower, more somber type of track. While there is still a definite focus on the vocals, the slide guitar used during this track may just be the most important part of this track in regards to the creation of tone. “Poor Michael’s Boat” speeds things back up and drops a great deal of the country influence. This change in Olson’s style means that the track has a very interesting early nineties feel to it.

I mean, I could hear  band like The Lemonheads or Rusted Root or even Soul Asylum doing this track. It is back to the norm with “National Express”, a slow, plodding track that really allows Olson to spread eir storytelling wings. While the tracks on “The Salvation Blues” all contribute to the creation of what is a very cohesive album, Olson here shifts and changes things to allow for continued enjoyment of the album. Eir forays into the rock genre are the biggest hits of the disc, as they are more catchy and have a wider audience than the more straight-forward folk or alt-country tracks. “The Salvation Blues” should be bought by anyone that still loves the alt country genre or the folk revival acts (Devendra Banhart). Look for tracks like “Winter Song” on college radio, as well; Olson is back for eir third time in the limelight.

Top Tracks: Sandy Denny, National Express

Rating: 6.1/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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