Olav Larsen & The Alabama Rodeo Stars Love's Come To Town

Olav Larsen & The Alabama Rodeo Stars Love's Come To Town

Who would believe that the pure alt-country leanings of this disc — embracing Gram Parsons, early Byrds, Neil Young and Hank Williams — could stem from a Norwegian-based African-American and his all-Scandinavian band? Who knew that five guys named Sven could assault banjos, pedal steel, dobros, fiddles and accordions as authentically as their American counterparts to create an 11-track debut with every bit as much heart as their idols? There’s nothing mechanical going on here — this disc goes beyond hero worship and imitation. These musicians play with as much verve and conviction as any of their American influences. The best tracks include "May the Sun Always Shine,” which showcases the delicate backing vocals of female singer Mazz Swift, while the rollicking "You Can Call Me Baby” provides an able demonstration of the band’s instrumental prowess. Olav (vocals and harp) is clearly the pivot point and a mercurial talent to watch. He and his difficult-to-pronounce band members’ names may never become household words but the fact that Norway has spawned something so genuine is a welcome surprise. Seeking this record out is its own reward. (Hyena)