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Riverside Battle Songs

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Editors’ Notes

Continuing their exploration of American traditional song begun on their impressive self-titled debut, Ollabelle look inward as much as outward on this strong second album. Where their first release mostly covered old folk and gospel gems, nine of the 13 compositions on Riverside Battle Songs are originals, with each band member contributing equally to the music and lyrics. The songs build naturally and patiently, growing richer as they unfold and the singing and brilliant harmonies are superb throughout. The song arrangements are spare and thoughtful, as piano, organ, dobro, and guitar lines intertwine and play off of each other organically. Larry Campbell, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and former member of Bob Dylan’s band, contributes fiddle, banjo, and lap steel to the album as well as tasteful production. It’s to Ollabelle’s credit that their stirring take on “Riverside” — with its refrain of “ain’t gonna study war no more” — fits so seamlessly next to their own songs, particularly “Gone Today” and the gospel-soaked “Last Lullaby.” While respectful of the deep tradition they are tapping into, the members of Ollabelle are also confident enough to add their own contemporary stamp to the genre, exactly what folk music is all about.

Customer Reviews

"Reach For Ollabelle!"

Just one listen to "Riverside Battle Songs" and I am transported back in time-to the soul of the Deep South, to the hot, dusty Cotton Fields and to the cool, dark River Banks. {Amazingly enough, all these young talents came together in the artsy heart of New York City!} Echoes of Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Gram Parsons, Ralph Stanley and Johnny Cash resound in these old ears!(Got to say, Levon, you raised your daughter right!) These kids sing and play their hearts out like a house on fire! This is primal, powerful and punchy material here, not to be trifled with; but presented right, just like it is here! If Ollabelle is waging a Battle for the Riverside, let us all sing along with them! Grimmbo!

Plain Amazing

All that can be said is that these guys are definetly some great musicians. It takes some real skill and talent to create such beautiful style and variety in an album that modern day music is so lacking of (which is very dissapointing). If you appreciate music at all you've got to have this album but don't let me convince you just listen to the music, its just plain amazing.

Soulful, funky, melancholy, and full of spirit

Delta soul, country, funk, and gospel with AMAZING harmonies. If you haven't heard these amazing musicians yet, here is a good place to start. A great mix of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and The Band, it's hard to find such a wholesome dose of spirited music that will always feed your soul. Try "Reach For Love", a Band-like funky mudskipper, or "Gone Today" for a down-home jamboree. (And I defy you to NOT break down and weep with the heartbreaker "Blue Northern Lights", my personal favorite.) Check out their debut album too, but CERTAINLY try to catch Ollabelle live, as both LPs don't even come close to capturing the magic.


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
Riverside Battle Songs, Ollabelle
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Customer Ratings