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Neon Blue Bird

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iTunes Review

The presence of vocalist Amy Helm, the daughter of the Band drummer Levon Helm, lends the group a roots-music authenticity that they go to great lengths to live up to. The ensemble’s choice of material further proves their pedigree. The traditional “Butcher Boy,” with vocals from Fiona McBain, turns dark and foreboding by its weighty atmospherics. Stephen Foster’s “Swanee River” is given a country lope that enables Glenn Patscha to deliver an empathetic vocal that rescues the song from the novelty it’s become. The late Chris Whitley’s track “Dirt Floor” throws enticing harmonies into Whitley’s lonesome blues. Helm takes Paul Kelly’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and turns up the soul and funk with convincing economy. No one here tries to steal the show. They value the essence of being a balanced group. McBain’s original, “Wait for the Sun,” even ventures towards modern-day adult pop. There’s great ability here and fantastic craft that remains true to their vision.

Customer Reviews

Great Record!

Best Ollabelle record to date. Beautiful Vocals and great instrumental textures. Highly recommended!

A Fun Listen!

First exposure to Ollabelle and won't be the last. Highly recommended indeed.

All together now

Ollabelle has been one of my favorite groups since I first saw them perform with HEM at a 'kiddie' show in Annapolis several years ago. Although their recordings to date have been a bit uneven (always some highs but also a few Huhs?) they have never failed to thrill me with their musicianship and craft in live performance.

Neon Blue Bird represents the ultimate coalescence of their ensemble playing in recorded form. As a piece the recording felt somewhat unapproachable at first listen. It took a few rounds for me to perceive the nuances that make this such a fine effort and begin to hear the dynamics that one often sees at live shows.

I couldn't believe that Taj's Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes could actually be 'their' song, but now this version (much like their rendition of Brokedown Palace) is the one that I am drawn to the most. While beautiful harmonies lift almost every song, a knowing nod to the emotions that accompany everyone's daily journey, (so apparent in One More Time), infuse the playing with a compelling earthiness. As I began to 'get it,' I was seized by a smile of recognition that this record will be spinning my world for a long, long time.


Formed: 2002 in New York, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Named after Appalachian folksinger Ola Belle Reed, Ollabelle are a Manhattan-based band whose music puts an urban spin on Southern genres like bluegrass, gospel, and country. Despite their rootsy influences, the five bandmates first got together in the decidedly non-rootsy East Village, where a local bar called 9C began holding weekly gospel music sessions during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What began as a side project for six of the bar's patrons -- singer Amy Helm (the daughter...
Full Bio
Neon Blue Bird, Ollabelle
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Customer Ratings