CD Review- OffBeat Magazine -April 2013

While New Orleans will never be as famous for its acoustic music scene as it is for jazz, funk and R&B, Sweet Olive String Band’s auspicious debut brings one of its quieter, longstanding titans to the forefront. Though Pat Flory has resided in the Crescent City since the late 70’s and has made his presence felt with various contributions, surprisingly these bluegrass-tinged tracks (read: no banjo) represent his first studio recording ever. Flory wrote the lion’s share of songs with five originals that fit well within the classic bluegrass/old-time country idiom without being redundant or formulaic. As a vocalist, he can sound hearty like bandmate Mike Kerwin but also warble that high lonesome sound, such as on “My Louisiana Home.” On Kerwin’s “Long Lonesome Road,” Flory adds a touch of high harmony reminiscent of the legendary country brother duets of the ’30s and ’40s, something Sweet Olive should leverage more of. The quartet’s playing is extremely accomplished, especially given Flory and Kerwin’s splendid flatpicking and Forsyth’s gorgeous rides. Two instrumentals ensure that its Louisiana identity stays intact; the lazy, strolling jazz standard “Tin Roof Blues” and the lolloping Cajun waltz “Gabrielle.” With its clean, crisp mix and understated soulfulness, Sweet Olive’s cruise ends too soon, 10 tracks clocking in at 26 minutes. Still, it’s just enough to leave you wanting more.

by Dan Wilging

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