14 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Continuing their exploration of American traditional song begun on their impressive self-titled debut, Ollabelle look inward as much as outward on this strong second album. Where their first release mostly covered old folk and gospel gems, nine of the 13 compositions on Riverside Battle Songs are originals, with each band member contributing equally to the music and lyrics. The songs build naturally and patiently, growing richer as they unfold and the singing and brilliant harmonies are superb throughout. The song arrangements are spare and thoughtful, as piano, organ, dobro, and guitar lines intertwine and play off of each other organically. Larry Campbell, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and former member of Bob Dylan’s band, contributes fiddle, banjo, and lap steel to the album as well as tasteful production. It’s to Ollabelle’s credit that their stirring take on “Riverside” — with its refrain of “ain’t gonna study war no more” — fits so seamlessly next to their own songs, particularly “Gone Today” and the gospel-soaked “Last Lullaby.” While respectful of the deep tradition they are tapping into, the members of Ollabelle are also confident enough to add their own contemporary stamp to the genre, exactly what folk music is all about.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Continuing their exploration of American traditional song begun on their impressive self-titled debut, Ollabelle look inward as much as outward on this strong second album. Where their first release mostly covered old folk and gospel gems, nine of the 13 compositions on Riverside Battle Songs are originals, with each band member contributing equally to the music and lyrics. The songs build naturally and patiently, growing richer as they unfold and the singing and brilliant harmonies are superb throughout. The song arrangements are spare and thoughtful, as piano, organ, dobro, and guitar lines intertwine and play off of each other organically. Larry Campbell, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and former member of Bob Dylan’s band, contributes fiddle, banjo, and lap steel to the album as well as tasteful production. It’s to Ollabelle’s credit that their stirring take on “Riverside” — with its refrain of “ain’t gonna study war no more” — fits so seamlessly next to their own songs, particularly “Gone Today” and the gospel-soaked “Last Lullaby.” While respectful of the deep tradition they are tapping into, the members of Ollabelle are also confident enough to add their own contemporary stamp to the genre, exactly what folk music is all about.

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