Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ollabelle in Arden

Ollabelle rocked the packed house at the Arden Gild Hall on Saturday night. Ollabelle eschews faithful rendering of the original songs in favor of new arrangements that draw on their broad understanding of American musical styles. For instance, their interpretation of the traditional “Down by the Riverside” sets aside the usual Gospel shouting, instead opening quietly with Fiona McBain’s plaintive soprano over the shimmering pump organ of Glenn Patscha.

The band’s versatility seems endless: Byron Isaacs adds a variety of textures on dobro, guitar and bass. Amy Helm’s blues belting blends well with Fiona McBain’s sweet high notes. Tony Leone’s drumming is direct and understated. They have the rare ability to heighten the music’s intensity by getting quieter.

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