Singer/songwriter David Olney has been making music in Nashville for over 40 years, and the humble, talented scribe has bene exploring the depths of folk, rock, and country music just as long, breaking through genre barriers years before anybody coined the “Americana” term. This Side or the Other, Olney’s debut for Steve Dawson’s Black Hen label, proves to be a snug artistic fit, the like-minded Dawson producing and adding his considerable six-string skills to the songs. Backed by the cream of the Music City – folks like Justin Amaral, Fats Kaplin, and the legendary Charlie McCoy – Olney spins somber tales of romance and betrayal, loss and uncertainty above a gorgeous soundtrack. Olney’s poetic wordplay, intriguing story-songs, and world-weary vocals put him in a class by himself, the man’s talents transcending mediocrity to deliver the truly magnificent with This Side or the Other.
RIYL Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, or James McMurtry. Grade: A