Both during his stint with excellent alt-country band the Jayhawks and on his own more traditional-sounding solo albums, Mark Olson has been responsible for some of the best Americana music around. His newest album, "The Salvation Blues," may have been recorded under some trying emotional circumstances, but the music within finds Olson's gift for a heart-tugging melody and a sparkling arrangement still firmly intact.
"Salvation Blues" is a travelogue of sorts, its songs inspired by the places Olson visited as he roamed the world after his 2006 divorce from fellow singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, which left him without a permanent home. Unsurprisingly, the album's "Clifton Bridge," which takes its name from a suspension bridge in Bristol, England, is a weeper, but like so many of the best sad songs, it's shot through with a glimmer of hope. "Some people come here to die," sings Olson. "We came here to live."
-- David Marchese