Through a Glass Darkly - David Olney

Through a Glass Darkly

David Olney

Philo CD PH 1224

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch
(moben@internet-zahav.net)

This is one of the first 1999 Philo releases and a good contender to make the top ten list of the year. Olney's first record back in the early 70's was THE CONTENDER, a rock'n'roll record that had many fans. By the end of the seventies he was into folk, but some of the anger of the rocker has always been part of his singing and songwriting.

With 60 minutes of music, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY is one of his most consistent and focused records in his twenty-five year career as a recording artist. The first song on the album is about the end of World War I. It is a great anti-war song:

He speaks to me in schoolboy French
Of a soldier's life inside a trench
The look of death, the ghastly stench
I do my best to please him

The song is narrated by a prostitute in Paris and the way she sees the imminent death of the soldier, while he is making love "too hard, too fast."

Many of the songs on the cd are accompanied by violins, violas and cellos, giving them a timeless quality.

As in his previous albums, the songs here are full of people living out of the mainstream. Olney tells their stories with such conviction that he makes you believe he has lived in their skin for a long time.

Olney also plays homage to the late Townes Van Zandt with the song Snowing On Raton. Having a Van Zandt cover is becoming a major trend of singer-songwriters since Van Zandt died two years ago. The cover is also very vivid, and Olney's love for Townes' songs can be heard. In a world where singer-songwriters appear as quickly as they disappear, hearing a new recording by a veteran like Olney is something to celebrate. THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY is a good cause for celebration. It's a great cd.

Song List:

  • 1917 (David Olney)
  • Dillinger (David Olney)
  • Avery County (David Olney)
  • JT's Escape (David Olney)
  • Little Bit Of Poison (David Olney)
  • The Suicide Kid (David Olney)
  • Snowin' On Raton (Townes Van Zandt)
  • C'mon Through Carolina (Tom House)
  • Ice Cold Water (David Olney-Gwil Owen)
  • Race Track Blues (David Olney)
  • The Colorado Kid (David Olney)
  • That's All I Need To Know (David Olney-Gwil Owen)
  • Lilly Of The Valley (David Olney)
  • Lay Down Your Kingdom (David Olney)
  • Barabbas (David Olney)
  • Dogwoods (David Olney)

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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