First of all, let me apologize for the long delay in reviews. Even though I’ve posted a few reviews of live shows, I’ve been way behind in getting reviews posted for all of the albums I’ve received. Suffice to say, I’ve had a few health issues that demanded most of my time, and I had to postpone reviewing until they were cleared up. I’m back, let’s rock!
At the top of my list is the latest from the soulful bluesman, R.D. Olson, known as "The Real Deal" to friends and who calls Arizona home. It’s my first time hearing his music, and I have to say that I really enjoy his voice and the way he blends down home blues with a sophisticated funk to achieve a unique sound.
The album is called Keep Walking Woman, and is available from their website or at a live performance. After listening to the album, I definitely recommend trying to catch them live. They swing hard!
Olson is the man behind the vocals and harp and he is joined by several quality musicians: Darryl Porras, Jamie Waldron, Robert Sellani, and Eric Williams. I have their names and when I get a little more information I will know who plays what instrument and update this review.
Baby Boomer Blues kicks off the album with a slice of funk that gets the blood pumping. The guitar sets it up and the keys and horns give it some backbone. This is a great way to hook an audience and get them engaged. Olson growls his way through the vocals.
He follows that up with Bleed Baby Bleed and more horn driven funk. That fat Chicago style blues crosses with some great dance music reminding me of R.L. Burnside’s line that you can sing about anything you want as long as you give people something they can dance to. Listen for some really good guitar work.
Olson changes things up with I Miss New Orleans. The song evokes the stormy nature of the city with its thunder opening followed by some deep brass that recalls a funeral procession. But New Orleans doesn’t mourn, it celebrates, and the lyrics celebrate some of the best things the Crescent City has to offer. This is a fine old-school number and you better believe I’ll be featuring it on Time For The Blues.
Petie Reed follows and it’s a slick number that straddles a couple of genres. With a little more punch it could fall into the genre of rockabilly, but Olson gives it a twist and it comes off more like the swing you would hear in the sophisticated nightclubs of the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. I love this song and Olson shows that his vocals can handle all of the variations of the blues. The piano work is outstanding.
Olson picks up the tempo for Up The Line. It’s got a good shuffle beat and the horns punctuate the song nicely. This is the chance for the drummer to shine, as he drives the song. Great harp work by Olson as well.
The next song on the album, Johnny Walker, is a great smoldering blues tune in the tradition of great drinking blues. At over seven minutes long, I’m going to be hard pressed to play it, but I really want to. It’s the kind of song that effectively evokes those wasted nights of my youth. This song alone is worth the entire album. Listen for the great guitar break.
The title track, Keep Walking Woman, follows and it’s an entirely different style of song. It’s a quick paced number that even includes someone adding some vibes and a vocal delivery that incorporates a hip hop flavor. It’s a cool song with plenty of high energy.
The next song has two different listings on my sheet. It’s labeled as both Can’t Spend It and Can’t Spend What You Never Had, but whatever you call it, it’s a damn fine old school song with that great delta feel. The slide guitar mixes with the harp and the vocals are recorded so they sound like they’re coming from far away – maybe some half remembered dream. It’s a lovely tune, and I can’t wait to share it with my audience.
Olson ends the album with Sheila, and he rocks it hard. The harp opens up the swinging song before the other instruments come in for a toe tapping shuffle. The horns add a different dimension and I can only imagine that this is the song that gets everybody out on to the dance floor. It’s a fun way to end the album and it just makes me want to hit the repeat button a couple of more times.
Like I said, this is my first time checking out R.D. Olson, but it won’t be my last. He’s got a strong presence and knows how to mix his songs so that just about every blues lover will find a few tasty morsels. I had a great time listening to the album and found myself enjoying every one of the songs.
Now comes the fun part. I need to check out his website, https://www.rdolsonband.com/, to see if he has any other releases and check his tour schedule to see if our paths are going to cross anytime soon. I hope you will take a few minutes to check him out yourself and see if you like his sound as much as I do.
If you don’t find yourself swinging and bopping, you might want to call the doctor, because something is definitely wrong!