Mark Olson and the Creekdippers - “Creekdippin’ for the First Time”

Monday, 17 November 2003
Mark Whitfield

Mark Olson and the Creekdippers “Creekdippin’ for the First Time”

Fargo, 2003

10
  • Creekdippin’ for some time yet
I recently found out in our forum areas (to my cost!) that suggesting the Jayhawks were anything less than the second coming of rock and roll personified was tantamount to calling Jesus an above average carpenter or Shakespeare quite a good writer.
Thing is, it’s only when you listen to what the Jayhawks were like that you realise how good and, well, pure the sound was a decade ago, and there’s really no way of telling what they’d sound like now had Olson stayed with them – no way, other than perhaps looking to Olson’s own work since his departure. Original Jayhawks fans fall into two camps – those that think the new stuff is still as strong as the old, and those who think the band without Olson is a pale imitation of the group it was – but very few if any longterm fans would argue that the band’s actually better without him, and it’s testament to Olson’s understated genius that this collection of tracks from his first three albums with the (then called) Original Harmony Ridge Creedkippers really does blow away anything the Jayhawks have done since the “Sound of Lies.” Louris may have the big, almost bombastic tunes, but what he doesn’t have is something Olson has in spades – subtlety. Everything about “Creekdippin” feels as authentic, beautiful, unconventionally dazzling and poignant a collection of songs as you’re likely to hear from any artist in recent memory – and yup, that’s a bit overwhelming a description, but in this case it’s true – it’s that good a record. The sensation of being slowly transported miles over the oceans to a romanticised but at the same time very real feeling America lasts for the duration – from the opening “Flowering Trees” and “Give My Heart to You” (surely a standard in terms of the sweet, country love song) to the blissful innocence of tracks like “Big Old Sign,” Olson and wife Victoria Williams work their way through implicitly working class songs about love, the grind, nature and death, and without every sounding contrived – they don’t have a rock and roll cliché between them, but still manage to make their music sound as invigorating and relevant as ever. The subtlety could be their undoing of course – quiet voices rarely make themselves heard against the din of commercialisation – but spend sixty minutes with this record in the early hours and you feel like you’ve been party to something very intimate and special indeed. Hopefully creekdippin’ for some time yet.

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