RIYL: The Jayhawks, Gram Parsons, Neil Young
Fans of the Jayhawks, Gram Parsons and Neil Young should be thrilled with Mark Olson’s new solo recording, Many Colored Kite. In fact, it’s Young’s early solo recordings that this album reminded me the most of. Olson’s deep, country twang, backed with compelling lyrics and solid music bring to mind such albums as After the Gold Rush and Harvest, albums grounded in country and folk, but with rock overtones.
Many Colored Kite is a pastoral affair. Olson has returned to the countryside, using nature as a theme and metaphor for the 11 songs on the album. Whether it’s a song about making it through a difficult time and finding rebirth in the world (“Little Bird of Freedom”), or it’s hopelessly romantic (“Beehive,” “Blue Bell”) or just a celebration of life and nature (“Morning Dove,” “Wind and Rain”), all of the songs are coming from a place of peacefulness in the singer/songwriter.
Music listeners unfamiliar with Olson’s solo output or his work as one of the co-founders of the Jayhawks may be off put by his singing voice upon initial listen. However, after repeated plays the melodies grow on you and create a soothing listening experience. Olson was definitely knee-deep in a ’60s experience when he recorded this collection of songs; you can definitely feel the peace, love and happiness he was experiencing come through in the music. (2010 Rykodisc)