“Playing music with Pete is like opening the gate to a race horse.
There is no musical style that can stump him and he seems to revel in musical challenges!”
“Some of the songs on Chemistry I have literally been working on for over twenty years. I’d work on it, bring it to my songwriting group, get feed back and put them back on blocks on the back of the songwriting car lot.
Songs each take their own time to finish, and some were done in one day and some of these took decades.”
“The title track came from reading jazz guitar great Ted Greene’s “Chord Chemistry” and working on some of the challenging progressions from the book.”
“Tango Flood came from a text saying that “dance class is cancelled” during the big floods in northern NSW and what happened that night.”
CD Review by Tony Smith
On this album of ten tracks, prolific songwriter, Kristina Olsen, displays once again the openness, honesty and easy going approach that makes her a popular choice as a headline performer at folk festivals.
Kristina is a great collaborator, as many Australian musicians can attest, and in this album, her Bown guitar is complemented beautifully by the Ribbecke guitar of ‘Wizard’ Pete Snell.
There is indeed great chemistry in the way these two musicians blend and co-operate.
To record these tracks, they managed on ‘three steamy nights in LA with two guitars, three mikes, ten songs’.
In ‘Maybe Better’, your hand underneath my shirt, finds my breast, hits pay dirt … the streets are mean, when I was young, sex meant a lot.
Whether it is attributable to her being raised in the counter culture of San Francisco or to subsequent experiences, Kristina Olsen has a candid, healthy and mature attitude to love and sex.
Perhaps this is why her lyrics are so open and perceptive.
Brecht and Weill would love the cabaret style ‘Tango Flood’ with its power chords and theme of water rising.
In ‘Chemistry’, Nancy tried to fit in, but then jumped, leaving locks of her hair clamped in your fist.
This track features soothing, laid back jazz-blues style guitar.
‘I Forgive Myself’ is a powerful message.
Perhaps she loved too hard, too fast and opened herself too much.
This yearning blues takes an honest look at the responsibility for relationship failures.
‘Maybe she is easier, and my rough and tumble was too much’.
‘Preheat the Oven’, in boogie woogie style, concerns the importance of preparing the way for love-making.
It uses the analogy of kneading dough for bread.
‘You Blow My World Apart’ says that “all I wanted was some fun, you gave me the house and car.
“What am I going to do with you … all I wanted was a party hat, you gave me a bridal veil.”
‘In This Ancient Game’ is a slower song about chess and its analogy with life, allotted roles, power and love.
“I am the queen you are the pawn … I will take the blame but power never buys true love.”
There are some very fine guitar breaks in ‘Listening To Your Mouth’ too.
“If I were the director and you the actor. Did you forget your cue? Looking at your mouth is not the same as listening to it.”
‘Live Man in the Dead of Night’ has a driving walking bass.
“Take my head in both your hands … kiss me as hard as you can. Love me all night long.”
‘Practicing Walking Away’ is a slow burning late night blues.
Listening to these powerful songs makes you realise how trivial the lyrics of most pop songs are.
Kristina Olsen is a generous collaborator, clever songwriter and versatile singer and Pete Snell is a superb guitarist.
‘Chemistry’ highlights the blues queen’s sense of humour and her leaning towards jazz seems very natural.
This beautifully arranged album is the perfect vehicle for this highly talented pair.