Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ollabelle - Riverside Battle Songs

This fall I went a little crazy with music samplers. Facebook’s Apple Students group offered free downloads of 25 songs per week for every week from mid-August through the end of September and Paste Magazine then sent me two sample issues of the magazine to try to lure me into subscribing. (Note to editors – it worked.) Each of their issues comes with a sampler CD. So, what I do it put the sampler on itunes which I nearly always play on party shuffle (or on my ipod which is in shuffle mode most of the time) and every once in a while one of these new songs would come up. If I hated it (or if I just wasn't a big fan) I deleted it from my computer. Sometimes I'd let it pop up a couple of times before I pulled the trigger but sometimes I didn't even get through the whole song. Note: I deleted all 50 songs from the two rap/hip-hop samplers from Facebook. Hey but at least I tried them!

So here I am at home listening to my music on my computer and suddenly this song comes on which made me stop what I was doing and listen. Then, I called Laura and made her listen. She liked it too. I think I even listened a third time. The song was a rollicking blues/roots piano song called "Fall Back" with great singing and harmonies. It was a lot of fun. It was hard to say who it reminded me of – maybe The Band with it’s laid back style but the harmonies were better. Turns out it was a band named Ollabelle. I did a little research, listened to a few seconds of their other tracks online and ordered their CD, Riverside Battle Songs, from Amazon.

The CD arrived a couple of weeks ago and it’s been living in my car and on my ipod ever since. It’s exquisite. The reason that the CD reminded me of The Band is that one of the two women is Amy Helm, daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm. But this music isn’t just derivative, although it harks back to an earlier time with covers of old gospel songs. It’s a wonderful mix of roots music and tight harmonies with great instrumental backing that continues to surprise me from track to track with piano or pedal steel or guitar. This is a great album – I love listening to it when I’m driving in the dark (which is most of the time lately with the days so short.) This one is worth sampling at itunes.

(In case anyone wonders, my sampler frenzy resulted in two purchases so far, the other being Say I Am You by the Weepies.)

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