Have Harmony, Will Travel 2 (Sunset Blvd Records)
Only last week, we named Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine’s memoir All I Ever Wanted as our Book of the Month. The timing is perfect because in the book, Valentine details her early bands including The Textones — a power-pop band based in SoCal but composed of musicians all from Texas. That group was formed by Valentine and Carla Olson.
The Textones are actually a going concern again, having put out a new album, Old Stone Gang, in 2018. But Olson has found time to record an album of duets and it’s a peach. As the name suggests, this record is a sequel. The first included duets with Peter Case, Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), John York (the Birds), Scott Kempner (the Del-Lords) and Juice Newton.
“You’d hear everything from ‘Love Is Blue’ by Paul Mauriat to The Zombies,” Olson said on a statement. “Even before I got into high school, I had a wonderful variety of music hitting me. I had this catalogue of songs in my head that I wanted to play with a band, or I’d hear a vocalist who maybe wouldn’t have done a particular song actually recording that song. Very often, a singer will think that they’re not capable of doing a song that I’ve asked them to do, or that it wouldn’t fit them stylistically, but I’ll hear something in that voice that beckoned me to get them to sing it.”
This time, Olson has assembled an equally impressive array of musicians. The album kicks off with “Timber, I’m Falling in Love,” a duet with Stephen McCarthy of paisley underground band The Long Ryders. It’s a typically pretty, dusty and heartfelt country rock ditty.
Elsewhere, “Goodbye My Love” featuring Peter Noone of British Invasion band Herman’s Hermits is, as you might expect, a longing ballad with a very ’60s feel. Brazilian singer Ana Gazzola guests on the vibrant “Uno Mundo,” and Percy Sledge unsurprisingly brings out the soulful best from Olson on the gorgeous “Honest As Daylight.” Arguably the best song appears bar the end, with local alt country group I See Hawks in L.A. contributing the beautifully ragged “Bossier City.”
Olson has always had a gift for working with talent, but she’s also proved time and again that she’s a gifted musician herself. Whether she’s doing solo, singing duets or back with the Textones, her music is worth seeking out.