Olsonville is a place in the heart of the New Americana. The sound is a fresh stew of roots and gospel, Cajun, Celtic and irresistible pop. The themes are timeless, summoning the anonymous poets of long gone "publick" houses. There are sweeping cinematic songs like the Randy Newman-esque Streets of Saint Paul, a tale of a kid watching a parade after WWII. "Butterfly Net" is a childlike ode to seizing the moment that evokes a young James Taylor. "The Irish in Me" is the new comic anthem of Irish America, and "Promise Me" is every fathers' love letter to his daughter.
Singer songwriter pianist guitarist John Olson is the "founder" of Olsonville, and resonates well with "Don't Shoot the Artist," which reminds us that shooting artists won't make them "cleaner," and might make them "meaner." He is older and yet not so far removed from the 14 year old who ran away from Minneapolis to New Orleans on freight trains, and ended up playing music on the streets alongside tap dancers and hoboes with trained crickets on leashes. The sounds of New Orleans come through today on "Happy is up to You"--a rollicking tune that begins with the Swedish aphorism, "If you want to sing, you've got to find a song." John returned to New Orleans other times--as an invited guest--to play at the Jazz and Heritage festival. He played piano and violin at jazz festivals and venues around the country. He recorded this first singer/songwriter album at the renowned Blackbird Studios in Nashville. There he worked alongside with artists of transcendent ability--and humility. The session leader remarked that this effort could be one the "strangest and most amazing challenges of my long and prestigious career." Of all the remarks of the artists, the one that struck Olson most was an intern's comment that it was great to work on a project of so much "meaning." Well, if it doesn't have meaning, what's the point?
All of the songs are meant to move our hearts or make us laugh, but they are also intended to promote great causes. Isabella will raise funds to repair cleft palates for kids in remote parts of the world. Streets of Saint Paul will support soldiers' families in need.
The Olsonville band is Minneapolis-based, and aims to tour in early 2013.