Olga’s third album, Now Is The Time, is the first time that I have been able to hear this amazing, sexy guitar slinger and vocalist. From just one spin of this disk, I got a sense of nearly everything this musician is about; from her voice to her backing band, which includes husband Jimbo Mathus, you can feel the love for what she is committed to doing. This love comes shinning though on this powerful country blues recording.
The disk opens with the title track and from the rumble of the first drum roll you can tell that this one is going to be good. The band, which can expand to seven instruments, comes together well here in one of its simpler forms. The bridge is a wonderful example of country blues done right, everyone complements each other well throughout the entire disk. The funky bass and guitar work set the tone for the rest of the album. Even Olga’s vocals blend perfectly with the sound of the band, as if just another instrument.
“Weary” is a jumping blues boogie, driven to madness by the backbeat of Paul Taylor and Steve Malcolm, while Jimbo again shows his mastery of the guitar. The tune is cut from the mold of blues rockers Canned Heat; “Weary” has the same vibe as their “On The Road Again”. Definitely a jam you can play over again while cruising down a long, lonely highway.
While “Ain’t It A Shame” is a slower tune with a rolling sound provided by a solid drum kick and a “washtub” bass thump. Here Jimbo shows his mastery of string instruments in general, by playing the mandolin as Olga’s passionate vocals drive home lyrics such as “such a shame/ two people so deep in love/ can’t act like grown-ups”.
“What’s The Matter with The Mill” and “Stealin'” have the band playing in a 1930’s country/blues style, very similar to the same simple sound that can be found on Jimbo’s new album old scool hot wings. Olga’s strong vocals get playful in these tracks as Jimbo and company sing alongside her.
“I Won’t Ask” is a solid rocker that has a soul/English-blues sound to it. Certainly a tune that would have found a place on the Billboard Top-Ten in the mid 1960s, with its groovy guitar and Memphis soul bass. The mixing of Olga’s vocals is perfect on this track, with just the right amount of distortion and feedback.
The country/ soul of “Can You Forgive Me” make this track one of my favorites, Olga’s sweet yet strong vocals display a passion that shakes the soul and hits your heart as she repeats the title and asks for forgiveness.
On “Fool” and “Gotta Keep Moving” the band gets into some solid blues/funk with deep bass runs and a solid shuffle on the drums. Jimbo’s guitar picking is outstanding as usual and is a highlight of the CD.
The CD closes with a track that puts the spotlight on Olga’s vocals and Jimbo’s picking, “GDTRFB” (going down the road feeling bad). The song is a wonderful example of the fact that at times less can be more; a perfect blend of two guitars and two voices. At the beginning and end of this track we get a sample of Miss Olga’s very sexy speaking voice, complete with a light southern accent.
“Now Is The Time” is an entertaining slice of country blues, packed with style and flair, each entry has its own appeal. The band’s performance is solid throughout, tackling every style effectively and with ease, while Olga’s strong, passionate vocals weave it all together. This being her third album makes now the time for me to run out and find the fist two and hear what I’ve been missing out on. Needless to say that Olga has got a new fan.
Written by Fantasma el Rey