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While he's not a household name by any stretch, David Olney is probably one of the best songwriters the world has never heard. His numerous releases on the folk-oriented Philo/Rounder label consistently make critics' top-ten lists, but never break through to the mainstream. Now on the co-op label Dead Reckoning, Olney has released what may be his most energetic and intriguing album in years.

Omar's Blues is a trilogy of song cycles, based loosely on The Rubaiyat, and with a supporting cast of Dead Reckoners including Mike Henderson, Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplan among others. In contrast to the more quiet, introspective and acoustic music he made in the past, much of Omar's Blues rocks out like never before. The lyrical density is still there, with references to the obscure (Jean Paul Levesque in "Paris Incident") and the popular (DeGaulle and Ray Charles in "Omar's Blues #3"), and the imagery is as powerful as ever.

In a perfect world, David Olney would be famous and his work would be studied by academicians. For now, though, he must content himself with the small cult following he has garnered over the years of hard work. Some day, someone is going to rediscover Omar's Blues, and Olney's genius will be recognized. -- James Kelly

David Olney plays Eddie's Attic, Sept. 1-2.


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