Mark Olson was born and raised in Minnesota by a family of mostly farmers and schoolteachers. Predominately a self-taught musician, Olson is well known for his use of alternate tunings and two-part unison singing that then breaks into harmony. He co-founded (and was a principal songwriter, singer and guitarist) the Jayhawks in 1985 in Minneapolis. Upon leaving the Jayhawks, he formed the Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers in 1997 with Victoria Williams. That band, later called the Creekdippers, made seven albums.
Ingunn Ringvold comes from Larvik, Norway (also the home of Thor Heyerdahl, the famed explorer and Kon Tiki author). Blessed with a naturally beautiful voice, she began singing in public at a very young age. Ringvold hears music in her heart and writes emotionally moving string arrangements. She studied the Armenian Qanon with Arax, a master musician in Vanadzor, Armenia, where she learned how to harness great strength in her performance style. She has released four solo albums in addition to her collaborations with Olson.
Olson and Ringvold live now in the California desert, and they tour off and on internationally almost every year.
The husband-and-wife duo's third collaboration mines a "Death Valley isolation chamber folk/pop sound" that is awash with darkness and light. A roller coaster in a long-closed Lake Minnetonka amusement park, walks through historic orthodox churches, a fossil-collecting canoe trip along the Niobrara River, and an isolated pizza place in South Africa. Old memories swirling in the warm Joshua Tree breezes provided them with the inspiration for the set of intriguing, imagistic songs that lovingly fill their latest outing, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation.
The album's ten tracks draw upon the couple's recent adventures together and their earlier adventures apart as well as tapping into, and stretching out, their own individual musical influences. While continuing along the Americana-cobbled roads they took on their first two albums, Olson and Ringvold explore lesser traveled musical territories on this release. Without exactly knowing where they were going, the two were emboldened by each other's company and unafraid to push forward. As Olson describes it: "The recording sessions occurred during the heat of summer at Thermometer Shelter Studios, located not too far from Death Valley National Park."
The Armenian Qanon, the Mellotron, the dulcimer, and djembe drums are among the world of instruments that the multi-talented Ringvold contributed to Magdalen's sound. The variety of arrangements on the album act, she explains, "like a different color in an impressionistic painting." Ringvold also is thrilled about being able to weave elements of her family's musical heritage into her own songs and the interesting ways that her work blended in with Olson's original material. All of Magdalen's original track recordings were done on a Nagra field recorder, which further enhanced the album's unvarnished sonic textures.
1.Pipestone I Won't Be Back 2.Then You'll Find the Morning.
3.Excelsior Park 4.Christina Hi! 5. April in Your Cloud Garden
6. 31 Patience Games 7. Black Locust 8. Elmira's Fountain
9. Silent Mary 10. Children of the Street Car