MARK OLSON – Spokeswoman Of The Bright Sun (Glitterhouse GRCD918)

SpokeswomanCo-founder of seminal alt-country pioneers The Jayhawks and subsequently the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, you would naturally expect Mark Olson’s new project with wife Ingunn Ringvold, who did the string arrangements as well as playing chamberlin, mellotron and qanon, to plough a similar Americana furrow. However, Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun more often calls to mind such names as the Incredible String Band (the title track especially), Love and 60s baroque chamber pop outfit The Left Banke, paisley pop psychedelia rippling through the likes of the strings dripping Time of Love and the hand percussion-led ‘Mary Frances Strong’, combining the two on the tumbling lovely opener ‘Dear Elisabeth’.

Inspired by the Mojave Desert near where they live, it’s a warm, summery album wafting on ethereal breezes, some, as on the closing ‘Soda Pop Cool Down Dream’, blowing in from Eastern Europe, cooling Olson’s reflective and often spiritual coloured lyrics. The whimsical ‘Seminole Valley Tea Sippers Society’ is especially redolent of the summer of love with its tinkling keys and baroque melody while ‘Gravity Loss ‘and ‘Nicola’, with its pizzicato strings, both hark to those ISB influences in their quivering vocals delivery and melodic structures. The same holds true of the penultimate ‘All My Days’, although it offers a slightly different texture with its scratchy handclaps rhythms. There is a slight tendency for him to reuse chord sequences, but that doesn’t detract from what is a rather lovely collection.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘Dear Elisabeth’ – official video:

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