Monday, June 18, 2007

Mark Olson - The Salvation Blues (2007)

The Salvation Blues is Mark Olson's first true solo CD.

Olson was the leader of The Jayhawks until he left them in the good hands of co-founder Gary Louris in 1995. One of the reasons he cited for leaving the band was to be with his wife, singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Then, leading a loosely organized group called The Creekdippers, he and Williams made several CDs together.

Unfortunately Olson and Williams eventually divorced which sent him into a period of depression. He moved out of his home and began a period of aimless world traveling. He lived with his aunt in Colorado, then with friends in Wales. From there it was on to Krakow, Poland, then back to his original home town in Minneapolis, and finally back again with his aunt.

The Salvation Blues was written during Olson's travels. It's a cathartic collection of songs he felt compelled to write. His state of mind is evident all over the disc. "Keith" is about his father, a suicide victim. On "National Express" Olson sings, "Where is my home? How could I lose this in a day?" He describes love as "an animal bleeding in the snow" on the CD's opening track, "My Carol."

The disc was produced by veteran Ben Vaughn who assembled a crackerjack band that includes Greg Leisz, possibly the most wanted pedal steel guitarist in the music business, and Tony Gilkyson who played with X and Lone Justice.

If you're a fan of vintage Jayhawk's albums such as Tomorrow The Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall you will probably like this album too. At times it even sounds like the Jayhawks because Louris sings harmony vocals on three tracks.

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