Saturday, September 22, 2007


Now is the Time‘s challenge is to present songs that, with enough personality, bypass listeners’ tendency to easily put artists like Olga into the jam band category. The album inherently calls to mind the Southern rock and blues sounds of artists like the Allman Brothers Band and Alison Krauss. That’s the vein Olga works in. But does Now is the Time contain those gems that magically shed whatever drawbacks spawn from categorization?

In keeping with Olga’s style, the framework of Now is the Time is blues-oriented. While the title track kicks the album off with eerie slide-guitar ambiance and Shannon Crufman-style Southern rock riffing, “Weary” and “I Won’t Ask” stick to typical blues composition and offer little to no surprises. “Take Your Rest, Daddy” and “Gotta Keep Moving” demonstrate what Olga is capable of: inspired songwriting that captures the maturation of delicate lyricism and the excitement of arranged songs. Olga breaks the jam band mold completely with “Can You Forgive Me,” a ‘50s-esque doo-wop lullaby that wears its heart on its sleeve and, at its best, recalls the lofty melodies and electric-palm-muting sways of Roy Orbison.

At the end of the day, Olga’s vocals are what make her stand out. Country songs “What’s the Matter With the Mill” and “Stealin’” meld bluesy, acoustic picking with her always-familiar voice, which at times achieves the creamy-and-cool thickness of Norah Jones. These songs, along with a reworking of traditional classic “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” account for her distinguishing Now is the Time as more Americana than her last releases. (219 Records)
-Brian Gilton