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Olsen`S Lot

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Album Review

Midnight Choir's second album was also the first produced by the Walkabouts' Chris Eckman, who would become the group's mentor and biggest booster through the '90s and beyond, helping to bring the quartet to wider attention through Europe and from there the rest of the world. His production on Olsen's Lot readily brought out the passionate drama of Midnight Choir, with plenty of dark shadows drawing on the same sources as Eckman's music, whether it be the murder ballads of past America, Leonard Cohen's haunted anti-mainstream MOR, Lee Hazlewood's self-consciously rich and ironic albums, or the post-goth power of solo Nick Cave. Paal Flaata's singing right from the start aims for a commanding presence, but thankfully it never goes too over-the-top — there's an audible catch and twang in his voice on songs like "Sister of Mercy" and "Heavy Rain" that favorably suggests fellow neo-traditionalist Chris Isaak. Flaata brings a ready command to the songs, all written by multi-instrumentalist Al DeLoner, whose performance on guitar and keyboards throughout emphasizes aiming for just the right killer touch without worrying about overt flash. Check his fine efforts on "My Masquerade" or "Sailing Dark Waters" for plenty of proof, while the rhythm section of Ron Olsen and Atle Aamodt fluidly add strong and softer performances as needed. Eckman participates on singing and synths at many points, while fellow Walkabouts stalwarts like Glenn Slater and Carla Torgerson bring their varied gifts to the table as well. Regular Walkabouts string arranger Mark Nichols, meanwhile, contributes throughout, adding a rich, haunting sheen for many songs. The whole album is a beautiful, theatrical presentation of American music that trumps both Nashville's slick '90s decline and alt-country's lack of taking chances easily. Secret highlight: "Jeff Bridges," a celebration of the actor as mythic American loner that retains a fierce, black power even at a slow pace.


Formed: 1992

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A somber European trio who plays a decidedly American form of rootsy rock, Midnight Choir has steadily built not only a fervent fan base, but a unique take on Americana as well. The trio of Paal Flaata (vocals/guitar), Ron Olsen (acoustic and electric bass), and Al DeLoner (guitar and various other instruments) began in Norway with the less-serious name of the Hashbrowns -- busking and occasionally playing club gigs until they were heard by veteran keyboard player Lasse Hafreager. Perhaps uncertain...
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Top Albums and Songs by Midnight Choir

Olsen`S Lot, Midnight Choir
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