Some European reviews of What'll It Be?...
Roots Highway, Italian magazine/website
Rootstime, Belgian website
Popgeni, Swedish magazine/website
Moors Magazine, Dutch magazine/website
BARRY OLLMAN "What'll It Be?" (Blue Colorado Music)
I must confess that I had never heard of Barry Ollman until the moment his album "What'll It Be?" unexpectedly came into my hands, which is not really surprising as this is the man's first album. And this despite a mature age, judging by the picture on the enclosing digipak!
With "What'll It Be?" Ollman certainly surprises in a most pleasant way. "Imogen's Lament" with Graham Nash, a bit reminiscent of James Taylor, immediately had my full attention, just as the opening piece. What he expresses via a gradually aging photographer while musing on fear of the future forces one to think. "With no fear of dying, that never seemed hard. She's much more afraid of losing her sight ..." I had not thought of it like that. But I do not wish to think of ever winding up deaf, for example. That would pretty much amount to the same thing, I believe.
Anyway, this sets the mood. In "What'll It Be?" Ollman quite mindfully delivers ten very beautiful song portraits, based on the raison d'être of everyday life, stated personally with a well defined rationale. And maybe it's just that there is a high degree of authenticity. Much of the best material produced is of the quieter type. In my humble opinion, the songs for listening are basically quite enjoyable. But there are also some exceptions to the rule here. "Banker's Holiday," for example, rocks quite well thanks to a much-appreciated contribution from the electric guitar of Garry Tallent, known from Springsteen's E Street Band. And the summer-invoking "small pop hit" "Almost Time" has a similar lightly animated character. But most of the material falls under the heading of ballads. And, to be honest, here Ollman is simply at his best. As previously stated, the honey-sweet James Taylor type voice of his does it again and again! Just listen to pieces such as "Lean In Close," "Blue Colorado," "The Old Country" and the closing "Almost Time" and you will most likely be delighted.
A lovely voice, very beautiful songs performed by top musicians, what more could one ask for?
from Roots Highway, Italian magazine/website
From collector to songwriter while collaborating with some of his heroes Barry Ollman has a great story to tell that is marked by a musical debut as an adult that includes Graham Nash singing backup vocals on the first track Imogen's Lament; the electric bass of Gary Tallent (E Street band) on four tracks; and James Raymond (also with CSN) on piano on the final track Almost Time. Precious cameos on the album, What'll It Be?, that exudes classic folk rock with elegance and innocence, with distinct west-coast flavors and sharp songwriting. The acoustic depth of Painting the West (Ollman lives in Colorado), the brilliance of Something to Say and The Other Half, the more electrical and political Banker's Holiday are all different faces of the same coin before finding the more traditional sweet folk rhyme See Ya in Okemah (with the penny whistle of David Amram, the jazz musician and friend of Jack Kerouac). All pieces come together by virtue of Ollman's biography: he is one of the most important musical artifact collectors, and not just of Woody Guthrie and as a consequence a great admirer of Bob Dylan, but he is also a lifelong friend of the aforementioned Nash. Has contributed to several exhibitions while always remaining in the shadows and cultivating his childhood passion for music. He has finally realized his dream and he gets away with it thanks to his hard work, even though it is mostly his guests who will make the headlines.
from Rootstime, Belgian website
The life of Barry Ollman was completely dominated by music already from childhood. Yet it took until this year, at the age of 61, before the first CD with his own compositions was recorded and put on the market. The indirect reason for this was a heart attack he suffered in October of 2012, which made him realize that he had to make his musical dream come true.
|Barry by Graham Nash|
Nevertheless, his ten-track album "What'll It Be?" is a solid presentation due to the contribution to the recording of some big names in music. His long-time friend Graham Nash (of "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young") sings along with Barry Ollman on the opening piece of the album: "Imogen's Lament." That's a song you can listen to in the accompanying video, which can be considered a homage to the famous American photographer Imogen Cunningham who acquired name and fame during the past century for her botanical photography, and also for her, at that time still controversial, nude portraits.
Another great musician on the CD "What'll It Be?" is bassist Garry W. Tallent, who played with Bruce Springsteen's backing group "The E Street Band" from the very beginning. On this album he contributes to the songs "Banker's Holiday," "Lean In Close," the powerful number "The Other Half" and the closing song "Almost Time."
Nick Forster of the bluegrass band "Hot Rize" and his wife Helen are the driving force behind the popular national radio program "eTown" in Boulder, Colorado. In the program, they provide a forum for talented musicians to bring their songs live in the studio. On this album they provide beautiful harmony vocals, lap steel and an electric guitar solo in the country song "Blue Colorado."
When listening to this record, we cannot escape the impression that Barry Ollman's voice and music is very similar to that of other singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Paul Simon in tracks like "Painting The West," "Lean in Close," "Something To Say" and "Almost Time."
Ollman is himself a big fan of the work of Woody Guthrie, and along with David Amram on "penny whistle" he brings in pure Guthrie-style the traditional sounding folk song "See Ya In Okemah," referring to his hometown where every year a folk festival is held to commemorate and honour Woody Guthrie.
"What'll It Be?" by Barry Ollman is an album that you will be able to listen to several times in succession without pressing the skip button once. The album contains beautiful lyrics, gently rippling melodies and excellent vocals.
"Being just over 60 years old and after a severe heart attack in 2012, one could say that Barry Ollman is a late blossoming singer-songwriter since his album "What'll It Be?" is also his debut in music as a recording artist. With Graham Nash and "E Street Band" bass player Garry W. Tallent in support, his songs contain fine lyrics, sweet melodies and an excellent vocal performance. It is a record that should be played over and over again." – www.rootstime.be
from Popgeni, Swedish magazine/website
The Denver-based American Barry Ollman is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has created music throughout his life.
That it has taken as long as the year 2014 to issue his first album is surprising to say the least.
With the ten songs he has written with origins in roots, country and folk on the album "What'll It Be?" (Blue Colorado / Away From Home) Ollman shows clearly that he is a warm, personal music interpreter.
With a highly competent band to back him up and the involvement of musicians such as Graham Nash and Gary W. Tallent in the ten songs he composed, this is a CD which will be played often.
The opening track "Imogen's Lament," where he sings a duet with Nash is the cream of the crop.
However, "Lean In Close," "Blue Colorado," "Something To Say," "Banker's Holiday," "The Old Country" reinforce and make "What'll It Be?" a CD that is worth discovering.
from Moors Magazine, Dutch magazine/website
Barry Ollman is a music collector. He is the main collector of Woody Guthrie's music, for example, and is also on the Guthrie Foundation. Then you know right away what you can expect from his songs, although Ollman's songs are not all critical or even topical. He is often somewhat contemplative, as in "Imogen's Lament," which is about the photographer Imogen Cunningham and the demise of analogue photography.
Through his photographer brother, Ollman met Graham Nash, who has also made a name for himself as a photographer alongside his musical career (he also created the picture on the back of Ollman's album cover), and Nash sings the second voice on "Imogen's Lament." Ollman managed to snare another celebrity, namely bassist and guitarist Gary Tallent (of Springsteen's E Street Band) enabling him at the very start to present his lovely songs in fine style on his debut album and with an excellent band and superb guest musicians as well. Ollman has a talent for composing beautiful songs, great lyrics and lovely arrangements. What'll It Be? is outstanding!