Luke Olson

Southern Skies

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Dropping influences like Robert Earl Keen, Rex Foster, and the Highwaymen into the opening track, "Radios Need to Change," Luke Olson has his finger on the pulse of Americana. Olson relies on his Texas homeland for most of the lyrical material, but there is more of a Nashville sound in the songs, particularly the backing harmonies on "The Barn That Courtney Built." The song has a typical country feeling to it with pedal steel guitar and harmonica. There's also a hint of nasal twang in some selections. If there's a slight problem with the first few songs, it's that Olson tends to play each song to its perfected structure, coming across as a bit bland with some clich├ęs at times. "Your Smile" breaks the mold slightly, closing at over five minutes, but again, the format is too tight for the song's own good. The title track is quite strong, with a slightly more upbeat nature to it as Charlie Wood and Jason Mozersky strum their acoustic guitars. The song doesn't suffer from a country-pop crossover style, but "She Comes Around" certainly does. Lyrically, the song is OK, but the polished result is a stale sound. When Olson opts for a sparser arrangement on a country ballad such as "Believe in Me," the effect is far greater. "4th Of July" follows the same musical path, but the fadeout closing the song comes at a rather odd time. One of the more rock-oriented tracks is "Turned Around Upside Down," and it works well. The track resembles "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett, but with country leanings. Leaving the best for last, the album closes with the lovely "When I Look at You." An impressive debut, but some songs could do without the crossover elements.

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