BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Only an artist who’s as seasoned as David Olney would possess the singular savvy to be able to pen a song that recasts the Greek god Sisyphus as a poor Indiana farmer back in the ‘30s or the kind of imagination that allows him to a write a tune that captures a dialogue between the Lord and Satan, and then pits them against one another in a poker game. Nevertheless, leave it to Olney to craft those scenarios and more, resulting in an album boasting a baker’s dozen of hard luck tales and weathered ruminations.
“Servant, Job,” “Soldier of Misfortune” and “Sad Saturday Night” are intense and austere, but leave a vivid impression regardless. That’s not so surprising; Olney’s music sifts the rich top soil of arcane American music while retaining his own distinctive spin. A sturdy blend of elegant ballads, turgid deliberation and additional elements of blues, roots and even a bit of vaudeville, When the Deal Goes Down is not only one of Olney’s best offerings to date — and that alone says a lot, considering a resume that stretches back some thirty years — but also an extraordinary hybrid of sounds and styles.
Every deal should be as rewarding as this… or at least as pleasing.
DOWNLOAD: “Servant, Job,” “Soldier of Misfortune,” “Sad Saturday Night”