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David Olney (photo by Brydget Carrillo

MIGRATION  •  David Olney

Olney staked out the land he's been working many years ago. Beast in the stall and shotgun by the door, he's worked his rocky plot by hand until it bent to his will.

He is an arresting presence. Inside his dark eyes there's an hourglass turned upside down and a fixed stare that says to state your business. He's a hardworking family man with plenty of hard living behind him. The hard won simplicity of his words belie the road that led to them.

No one knows what love is
Love is, that's all
No one knows what love is
Not until they fall

Along those lines, Olney is not imitating or even emulating anything, he just is. There is a sense of peace in this record that entices the listener down to the well from where he is speaking. But live Olney can be dramatic, explosive. And it's not theater--it's passion. Passion that the songs allow, because that's they way they were written. The ambush ballad "Lenora" is gut wrenching, and puts the listener at the murder scene.

Co-produced with Robb Earls, Migration features Olney stalwarts Mike Fleming on bass and Pat McInerney (long of Nanci Griffith's band and co-producer of her latest) on percussion, and Thomm Jutz on guitar, who's been touring the world in duo with Mary Gauthier. Deanie Richardson is a sterling partner on fiddle and mandolin, a keeper.

To say that David Olney has earned the respect of his peers understates the level of praise accorded him by Emmy Lou Harris and the toughest critics in the land. At the artist's website, these accolades can be found along with an impressive discography. If you've come this far, read our review of his previous release, also on Loud House records, The Wheel.

Olney's like the far side of the songwriting pendulum. He's old school, he's hard line. He's the shit, is what he is.  • Frank Goodman     

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