Olivia Jean “Bathtub Love Killings”
The fact that Olivia Jean’s debut album is released on Jack White’s Third Man Records brings not only advantages, but also a sense of anticipation and possibly expectation. Whilst it is her first solo album, she has also performed with her band Black Belles as well as her work with the aforementioned Mr White.
This album opens with the superb “Mistakes”, which kicks it all off with a surprisingly funky, punchy and rocking number. This rock sound does flit in and out of the album with “After The Storm” having an almost mainstream rock feel to it, but it is sweetened by some great girl group vocals. In contrast, “Merry Widow” is like some sort of off kilter cabaret number. It’s ‘quirky’ but in an endearing rather than annoying sense (a thin line that many other artist cross way too often!). The showmanship is also shown on “Deadly Hex” which is like some sort of theme tune to a modern circus/cabaret show.
The song “Reminisce” is an obvious single contender, with its crunchy guitar line being supported by some really neat girly vocals. For fans of Mr White’s guitar style, “Green Honey Creeper” is the one which will really appeal. It has that dark bluesy feel to it, especially with the long solo and riff mid-way through it. However, it also has a hint of almost sixties soul to it. That grungy blues feel is also present on “December”, but this time it drags you down into the swampy sound rather than adding some light.
The real peak of the album actually comes with “Haunt Me”, its real appeal is in the way it blends what seems like a sweet, country, ditty with an underlying sense of gothic despair. Likewise “Proof” is slower and almost ‘twee’ but still has that feeling of darkness and pain to it. The album then ends with the instrumental “Cat Fight”, which is a huge mish mash of styles and sounds that are both retro and sci-fi at the same time! It all sounds like a mix of various songs from a Tarantino soundtrack.
Bathtub Love Killings is a great title for this album, as it does have the sense of being warm and comforting but underneath there is a sense of darkness and danger. Given the background of both Third Man Records and Olivia Jean, it is no surprise that it is a varied, interesting and off the wall collection of tunes and influences. It isn’t, however, ‘different’ for difference sake, instead it’s a brilliant, coherent collection of really cool tunes.