This album came out two decades ago. Here’s what I had to say about it back then (with some minor editing):
Since Mark Olson is the musical and marriage partner of quirkie folkie Victoria Williams, and since this album is named for his grandmother who died last year, I fully expected My Own Jo Ellen to be an gothically haunted and mournful affair. Surprise.
The only ghosts Olson is raising on these 10 tracks are those of Gram Parsons and The Band. The former can be found in the former Jayhawks’ stirring alt-country whine. The latter comes through in the shambling roots-rock that lazily lopes along through tracks like Someone to Talk With and Linda Lee, whose homespun hospitality invites you in to put your feet up and set by the fire. Featuring Williams on background vocals and various members of their loose-knit Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers collective, My Own Jo Ellen is less a eulogy than a celebration of life. Which is probably the finest tribute anyone could offer to a dear departed.