David Olney

The Wheel – 2003 (Loud House)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

CDs by David Olney

On the surface, the symbolism in the title of David Olney's latest may appear simplistic and overused, but with his brilliant lyrics and impassioned vocals, Olney comfortably pulls it off.

The cyclical theme is best illustrated in "Revolution," in which the seasons are used metaphorically to represent oppression and it's victims: "Winter's reign was long and cruel/We grew hard each day she ruled/Each frozen night seemed to last forever/ She grew barren in her ancient age/And bitter in her twisted rage/Too blind to see the seeds of revolution." And though spring successfully defeats winter, Olney cautions against complacency by foreshadowing the inevitable emergence of another oppressor: "It's all too easy to forget/Winter's touch is cold as death/We all believe the summer lasts forever." While "Chained and Bound to the Wheel" and "Big Cadillac" similarly address the struggle to survive life's everyday challenges, elsewhere Olney acknowledges the power of love to elevate the spirit ("Now and Forever," and "The Girl I Love"). Co-produced by Olney and Robb Earls, the disc features stellar accompaniment from guitarists Mike Henderson and Thomas Goldsmith, bassist Mike Fleming, drummer Pat McInerney and Deanie Richardson on fiddle and mandolin.

In the hands of a lesser artist, this could have come off as pretentious or trite. Instead David Olney shows why he is seen by many as a peer to such singer/songwriters as Dylan, Van Zandt and Earle.