Carla Olson “Have Harmony Will Travel, Volume 3”

BFD Records/The Orchard, 2023

Classic rock songs given a new spin, and some “new” tracks featuring a true legend

As is probably fairly obvious from the album title, this is an album which sees Carla Olson collaborating with a large number of musical friends, mostly taking the lead vocals herself but on some songs clearly duetting and on a memorable contribution from Allan Clarke (of The Hollies fame) pretty much stepping aside in his favour. To find out Carla Olson’s thoughts on the joys of musical collaboration one need do no more than consult this excellent and detailed recent interview which ranged widely across the background to the album and the many people who feature on it. Carla Olson is a busy person – as well as this album she has recently recorded with  Stephen McCarthy, produced albums for the multi-artist compilation ‘Americana Railroad‘ and new albums by Jake Andrews  and Robert Rex Waller Jr. – the significant thing being that there’s no loss of quality in this prolificacy.

For this latest volume of duetting the balance is split between working with favourite guitar players with Olson’s vocals to the fore, and duetting with other vocalists.  The song choice leans into a classic Sixties rock sound – with a ballsy ‘Street Fighting Man‘ strutting its stuff under the combined guitar assault of  Jake Andrews and Jonathan Lea who also adds electric sitar and a spacious take on ‘I Can See For Miles.’  Newer writes such as the Allan Clarke/Carla Olson ballad ‘It Makes Me Cry‘ evoke a similar era, with piano and guitar leading the song through a series of backward reflections on love and loss.  There’s more fine balladry on the Robert Rex Waller Jr and Carla Olson duet of ‘Stronger‘ with a fine emotional delivery of the classic line “If I’m getting smaller, it’s ‘cos I’m leaving you today.

The album closes out with an EP’s worth of live takes of Gene Clark and Carla Olson – subtitled ‘Knights In Tarnished Armour.‘   These date from 1987 and were recorded in Nashville – the sound is pretty good on them, but more importantly there’s the opportunity to hear Gene Clark on some recordings that one may not have heard before, and that’s a big bonus and reason enough if that’s your inclination to seek out this album. Gene and Carla’s entwined vocals are beautiful and strong on ‘Del Gato‘ and the rendition of The Byrds classic ‘Set You Free This Time‘ is something one might well listen to over and over again.  ‘Have Harmony Will Travel, Volume 3‘ is another showcase for Carla Olson’s talents as musician, singer and producer.

7/10
7/10

About Jonathan Aird 2727 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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