A Review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Marie Eaton
One of the hallmarks of Kristina Olsen's new album, HURRY ON HOME is variety, ranging from ballads to blues, from rich instrumentation to a cappella voice. The themes move from the more predictable songs about love - lost and found - to dreams of death and alcoholism. This CD is filled with many tasty moments, beginning with the opening sounds of Nina Gerber's incomparable guitar licks on the title cut and ending with Kristina's solo voice with a just a touch of concertina and keyboard on the final cut "I Just Want You to Hold Me."
Kristina Olsen's voice is a strong, rich contralto, sensual and enticing in her softer love songs, like "Hurry on Home" and "Love is a Sometimes Thing" or gutsy and bluesy in "I Don't Care What You Say." Listeners familiar with the Canadian singer-songwriter, Connie Kaldor might hear some similarity in both vocal quality and style as they listen to Kristina.
Kristina accompanies her singing with accomplished acoustic and steel body guitar work. She is supported by some of the best back-up musicians the west coast has to offer: Cary Black on electric and acoustic bass, Kim Scanlon and Ed Johnson on harmony vocals, and Barbara Higbie on piano. Nina Gerber shows her production skills using an accomplished sense of the importance of silence and space. She also provides a number of the tasty licks and breaks which turn these good songs into great listening pieces.
My only complaint is that, although the songs are all well performed and produced, the quality of the songwriting itself somewhat erratic. Most are very well crafted, with melody and words that fit together like hand and glove. However, in several songs Kristina seemed to settle for an easy rhyme, a line that doesn't quite scan, or a melody that doesn't quite support the words.
There are some great songs on HURRY ON HOME that showcase her stylistic range both in writing and performance. My favorites include the longing love song "Hurry on Home," the funky, sexy blues tune "Uh Huh," the compassionate story song about "The Man with the Bright Red Car," and the plea for comfort in "I Just Want You to Hold Me."
All in all, this third album is Kristina's best and I can recommend it confidently!