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Dutchman's Curve

(Deadbeet; US: 13 Apr 2010; UK: Import)

David Olney’s 22nd album takes its title from the site of the worst train disaster in American history, which occurred in Nashville in 1918, and railways and romance are focal points of the work. Yet the overall mood is low-key and relaxed rather than tragic. Jack Irwin’s production is sympathetic and Olney is in good voice. The album’s highlights include the driving opener “Train Wreck”, the gentle, romantic “Red Tail Hawk”, the Girl with a Pearl Earring-evoking “Mister Vermeer”, the bluesy “Way Down Deep”, and, best of all, the lovely “Covington Girl”, which sounds like a newly-minted Americana classic. Punchy horns punctuate a few of the songs, and Olney enlivens the tracks with some engaging vocal quirks: imitating a train whistle in “Train Wreck” and scatting on “I Got a Lot on My Mind”. Not all of the material is as distinguished: a couple of the tracks feel like throwaways, and a cover of the Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You”, though pleasant, is surplus to requirements. Nonetheless, Dutchman’s Curve is an enjoyable album that will surely satisfy Olney fans.

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Alex Ramon lives in London, UK, and teaches English literature and film at Kingston University and the University of Reading. He holds a PhD in English and is the author of the book Liminal Spaces: The Double Art of Carol Shields (2008). In addition to writing for PopMatters, Wears The Trousers and The Public Reviews, he's been known to blog here: http://boycottingtrends.blogspot.com/. And to tweet @BoycottTrends.


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