Hard to believe that it’s been more than thirty years since rock bands such as Gary Nicholson and the Change, Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, Guadalcanal Diary, Webb Wilder and several others, roamed the Nashville clubs back in the early Eighties, literally in the midst of the honky-tonkers. Another such band, and one of our favorites, was Dave Olney And The X-Rays. Lead singer, now David Olney, was one of the forefathers of what is now referred to as Americana, and we are excited to present our thoughts on his latest album, “This Side Or The Other.” These ten cuts were produced by another mighty fine guitarist and friend of ours, Steve Dawson for his Black Hen imprint. Special guests include Fats Kaplin, Charlie McCoy, The McCrary Sisters, and Anne McCue, along with Dave’s regular bandmates, Daniel Seymour on bass, Justin Amaral on drums, and Ward Stout on fiddle.
Some of these songs are collaborations with friends, while some have been works-in-progress for years. Several have common themes running thru them as well, taking veiled shots at today’s twitter-centric society. There are songs about outsiders always looking for a place to call home, and “Always The Stranger,” is one such song, written with Johnny Cash, likely music’s ultimate outsider, in mind. It also features Dave playing Cash’s trademark chicka-chicka beat, over Steve Dawson’s dobro and Charlie’s harp.
Themes of walls, shadows, and light are also common. One such, “Wall,” offers a question that only the birds of the skies can answer, whether it is built to keep someone out, or us, in. “I Spy” follows shadows and light, as our hero “”lives in two worlds, and can’t tell which world is real.” He closes the set with the lone cover, a song where finding true love is likened to a magic act, where, as The Zombies once opined, “She’s Not There.”
Our favorite was co-written by Abbie Gardner. Based on Romans, Chapter 8, verses 38 and 39, where Paul describes that “moment of decision” and “the darkness swallows daylight,” and is entitled “Death Will Not Divide Us.” It features guitar from Steve Dawson, as well as the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals, giving this one a good gospel feel.
Oh, would that it were that we could all get into Time’s souped-up Chevy and go back for one more legendary Saturday night at Cantrell’s on 18th and Broadway. Since we can’t, we can look forward to David Olney playing in Nashville on Saturday, September 1, at East Nashville’s famed 5 Spot, starting at 7 PM. With “This Side Or The Other,” one of this country’s most endearing troubadours offers an excellent set of his own brand of Americana! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.