Hans Olson resembles in many ways
one who seems to be an idol of his : Bob Dylan. He plays guitar and harp in a rack,
sings well thought out lyrics and veers towards folk-rock
One point where the two differ, and that's one of the interesting points for us is in the
way they integrate the harmonica into their music. The first few seconds of Deal it
out, the opening number of his latest release under the French Willing Productions
label will be convincing enough : a quick and well mastered riff, a powerful sound, a deep
vibrato : here is a man who knows, understands and masters the harmonica vocabulary and
uses it accordingly.
Through Hans' music one can hear the influence of Dylan and other
american songsters, in the style of the songs, the lyrics and the instrumentation.
Nonetheless, Hans Olson gives this laudable tradition a modern twist through titles
ranging from country-folk (Where did it go) to more unusual pieces like The
Jester that one could define as Reggae-Folk or the funky Voodoo
Promenade that features a rocking funk-blues harp solo.
Let's talk about the harp : this is not a harp player's album, not
anymore than it is a guitar player's album. Hans is someone who knows how to play and uses
the harp to enhance his songs. The Olson style is simple and well mastered. He uses
essentially holes 1-6 in second position and has a mainly rythmic approach. Don't think
that it isn't impressive though... At times his playing may remind of Sonny Terry, but
generally his style is his own.
I'm usually not a big folk fan, but I have to admit that I was seduced
by this album. Don't buy it just for the harp, buy it for the music. The way Olson uses
the harp in that musical context is impressive in itself...