David Olney's career has included forays into hard-edged roots-rock, quiet, introspective acoustic folk, and everything in between. The one constant has been his abilty to write concise, masterfully crafted and memorable songs.
High, Wide and Lonesome represents simultaneously the most consistently strong and diverse selection of songs collected on any of Olney's albums. In addition, his performances are perhaps the best of his career, his voice striking a perfect balance between the bluesy swagger of Spider John Koerner and the intense, whiskey-soaked warblings of Townes Van Zandt. The backing musicians are uniformly excellent as well. Highlights include Rick Danko's funky bassline on "My Family Owns This Town," as well as guest performances throughout the album from several other alumni of the Band. The above-mentioned song and the preceding track, "Another Place, Another Time," are interesting in that each deals with the same small-town murder from a different point of view. In one song, the narrator is the deceased's spurned husband, in the other, her secret lover. Unusual twists of this kind are a specialty of Olney's and make High, Wide and Lonesome a must-have for anyone interested in thoughtful, yet raw and powerful folk music.