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The Salvation Blues

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 12, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mark Olson was the founder of The Jayhawks, the most important band to emerge out of the 90's alt-country scene. Olson left after their most successful album, 'Tomorrow the Green Grass,' to pursue a simpler life in the California desert. A decade later, everything fell apart: Mark's marriage to singer/songwriter Victoria Williams ended, his group The Creekdippers disbanded, and he lost the home he had built by hand. These songs were written in the wake of that profound loss, during the two years he spent homeless - staying with friends in places as far-flung as Norway, Poland, and Wales. Produced by Ben Vaughn, 'The Salvation Blues' is Olson's first true solo album, made with some of LA's best session musicians. This album also features Mark's long-awaited reunion with Jayhawk Gary Louris, who provides harmonies on three songs.

Amazon.com

Here starts the third stage of Mark Olson's recording career. He first came to prominence as the primary singer-songwriter for the Jayhawks, before leaving that seminal alt-country band to make music with his wife, Victoria Williams, in the more acoustic, organic Creekdrippers. With his reedy voice and elemental imagery, Olson details the painful dissolution of that marriage on this solo album, clinging to music as a lifeline when everything else is lost. In the album-opening "My Carol," he compares his love to "an animal bleeding in the snow," while "National Express" asks "Where's my home? How could I lose this in a day?" Yet musically, "Clifton Bridge" and "Winter Song" rank with the best of his Jayhawks work, and both the title track and "Look into the Night" find redemption in the midst of despair. Gary Louris joins his former Jayhawks bandmate for harmonies on three cuts. --Don McLeese

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. My Carol
  2. Clifton Bridge
  3. Poor Michael's Boat
  4. National Express
  5. Salvation Blues
  6. Keith
  7. Winter Song
  8. Sandy Denny
  9. Tears From Above
  10. Look Into The Night
  11. My One Book Philosophy


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 12, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hacktone Records
  • ASIN: B000P6R6W4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,505 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Fisher on June 19, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Mid-way through Mark Olson's new album The Salvation Blues, the track Sandy Denny references the late 60's, early 70's British folk artist who would come to known as much for her personal difficulties with her husband (and alcohol) as she was for her songwriting. Such allusions echo Olson's painful split with his now ex-wife and bandmate Victoria Williams and loss of his beloved home in Joshua Tree, California; they also set the tone for this highly moving and personal recording, his first standout release since the Creekdippers' December's Child album from 2002 and My Own Jo Ellen, a classic from 2000.

As opposed to Olson's recent recordings that seem born of his life grounded in the California desert, pure Americana radiating joy, warmth, and belonging, The Salvation Blues conveys a sense of movement, distance, coldness and isolation while also making several references to Olson's travels through Europe (check out Clifton Bridge and National Express, both great songs). However, though the lyrics are evocative and moving, if not somewhat oblique, they aren't overly mournful either. Similarly, the music is generally, surprisingly upbeat, more sweet than bitter (as on Winter Song), capturing that folksy, acoustic sound Olson has become known for. Don't get me wrong, there are some sad tunes here (his solo Wurlitzer performance on My One Book Philosophy). It's just that in spite of darker themes, these songs ultimately give rise to deliverance and liberation, and in that context are as much about hope and optimism as they are about pain.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is easily the best work Mark Olson has done since he was with the Jayhawks. This record shows the heartbreak he has recently encountered, but all the time there is a message behind the music, that there is something better coming along and he is ready for whatever that is. Through the heartbreak this is hope, and well, salvation.

The 3 tracks that his former partner Gary Louris sings on, are just what is needed, it brings us back a little to their former greatness, and promises what is to come when their duo record comes out next year. Best tracks are Clifton Bridge, Salvation Blues, Sandy Denny and of course the old Jayhawks gem that was never recorded until now, Poor Michael's Boat.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves singer-songwriter, from the heart, just good music, something that is sorely lacking in most of today's music.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought the CD that included a small book of photographs and poetry. The words and images add to the experience of the CD as if to make it more multidimensional. This CD is an experience. It is sometimes risky to associate artists, but fans of the Jayhawks, and I know they're out there, should include this in their collection. It stands on its own and should be considered amongst the best of 2007. The production work, the lyrics, and overall quality of songwriting, not to mention the emotion of some of the songs, really works for me. Similar to Tim O'Regan's CD last year and likely the upcoming Gary Louris CD, these former Jayhawks know how to make the same great music on their own that they made together for many years.
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I have been a fan of Mark Olson's since the first time I heard him with the Jayhawks in about 1985. His voice, and how he used it, absolutely floored me. Now, over 20 years later, that voice is still there.

Plus, Gary Louris sings with Mark on a few tracks. When these two sing together, it is pure magic.
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On this masterpiece, Mark Olson noticeably reclaims the lyrical voice of his earliest days with The Jayhawks. Not that he ever lost it, but here he matches it up with a sound that takes fans back to those early records. Gary Louris, collaborator on so much of the classic "Univoice" that The Jayhawks were known for, sings harmony on 4 tracks, although he is mixed down just a bit below Mark. One of these tracks was actually once a Jayhawks demo and it gets an update here that places it cleanly into the context the band would have [Poor Micheal's Boat]. Truth be told, many of these songs would have worked fine on a Jayhawks reunion record. Since it is a solo album the instrumentation is sparer. But Ben Vaughn's production makes it unmistakenly lean toward a band sound not too often heard in Olson's post-Jayhawks career. Occasional additions of strings, horn parts, or steel guitar take the already strong material to another level, as does a country-blue guitar sound reminiscent of Mr. Louris himself. Longtime Jayhawks fans can feel richly rewarded, as this sounds closer to their classic "Blue Earth" and than anything any of these folks have done since.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
This is a great album. An album that has to be felt to be fully appreciated. I've been listening to it since it came out, and I have to admit that it took some time to sink in. Now I listen to it more often than those early Jayhawks albums that I've always loved so much. Some people have already done a good job describing the quality of music here, so I'll just add that the vinyl version has made this record even more enjoyable for me. The sound is so full and warm... Mark's vocals especially sound more rich and full. And there are two bonus tracks not included with the cd..one of which is stunning! (Copper Coin)
The quality of the vinyl itself is very high.. 180 gram pressing with a sturdy gatefold sleeve. All of the lyrics and liner notes are included. If you're a fan of this record, and have a turntable, I would highly recommend picking up the vinyl. I think it's how a record like this is meant to be heard.
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