home listen reviews artists a- z
David Olney

THE WHEEL (Loudhouse) • David Olney

When Dave Olney steps up strummin to the mic and barks:

Remember that when you write your book
This is the road that General Lee took
Headed for God knows where
Headed for God knows where
And we're headed down Lee's highway

You know that mofo means business. And people who know better shut their gobs and listen to what the man has to say.

David Olney is one of the few people out there you can call a heavyweight anymore. None of his material is candy coated, although occasionally it does have a soft center. He does speak of love profoundly in his records, and certainly on this one, but it always includes the darkness and pain of love lived, the joy and the tragedy, the ennui and the ecstasy. And the ballads swing, and the rockers groove. Although the quality of his lyric approach has always generated lofty Faulknerian comparisons, the cat is a rocker. In the 80s his legendary band The X-Rays created a devoted fan base that remains in his camp to this day.

On The Wheel, his longtime compadre Mike Fleming plays bass, beautifully. Mike Henderson, one of Nashville's best stringmen, shows how it's done on the opening pair, which we include as clips on the Listen page. (You may want to go here to view the lyrics while you listen.) Olney's an eccentric, inventive veteran, and he and coproducer Robb Earls come up with a dozen or more singular arrangement ideas that keep the record fresh and surprising, always provocative.

I saw the artist again recently, sharing the stage with mega hitmaker Don Schlitz, who continually praised his friend Olney through the evening in very humorous ways. He made no bones about the fact that Dave was one of his heroes, and Olney made funny comments about how Schlitz' long string of hits pissed him off. But Olney's had prestigious cuts of his own, including Linda Ronstadt, Del McCoury, and Emmylou Harris, who with Daniel Lanois did an amazing version of "Deeper Well."

With a dozen albums to his credit, David Olney has established a certain quiet level of global notoriety--the press have stood and applauded from start to finish, and the wonderful liner notes from the esteemed Dave Marsh are a remarkable testament in themselves. But fame and fortune still await, and we believers still see it coming. Perhaps you see yourself as a person who values the highest levels of the pursuit of songwriting. Okay, prove it. Buy it, here. • FG

view cover      listen to clips      davidolney.com

puremusic home