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Album Review: Olivia Jean Is Back to Show Us How It’s Done with “Raving Ghost”

Olivia Jean – Raving Ghost

 

–by Robert Wilkins

 

Third Man Records recording artist Olivia Jean is back with another album full of retro goodness, Raving Ghost, dropping may 5th. She may be the wife of Jack White but believe me when I tell you that she can hold her own musically. She is a multi-instrumentalist in her own right as well as an accomplished songwriter. Her professional career took off when she was able to slip a cassette of her own recordings to Jack White at a Dead Weather show in 2009. She was quickly signed to Third Man Records and the rest, as they say, is history.

Olivia started her career at TMR as a “side man” of sorts while recording with other artists on the label. It was not long before she was leading her own band known as the Black Belles. After releasing one album to moderate success the band broke up and Olivia set out on her own. While performing as a solo artist she still finds time to record and collaborate with others at TMR. The newest album titled Raving Ghost is her third full length solo recording and her first since 2019’s “Night Owl”.

The album starts with the album’s namesake, “Raving Ghost”. The song has a bit of a throwback surf vibe with a fantastic groove and great drum fills.  Olivia’s lovely vocals are the perfect complement to a song that is as raucous as anything any of her male counterparts has ever done.

“Too Late” reminds me of a Go Go’s song if they had been part of the late 90’s Detroit garage rock scene. There is an instrument within the song that I just can’t quite place. My best guess is that it is an organ or synthesizer but either way it gives the song a unique, fresh sound. Olivia’s willingness to not be satisfied with the status quo allowed her to hit it out of the park with this one.

The song “Trouble” is not only my favorite song on the record but one of the best songs I have heard in a long time. After my first play I had to listen to it twice more and countless times since. It reminds me of a song that would be performed by Olivia Jean if she were a member of the Raconteurs. The guitar playing is magnificent and her vocals are exceptional. This song was superbly crafted, and I don’t think I could say enough good things about it.

Olivia Jean photo by Jada and David Parrish.

Occasionally, an artist can cover a song and make it all their own. Literally to the point where it becomes THEIR song. Think Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” or Aretha Franklin singing Otis Redding’s “Respect”. In my opinion Olivia Jean was able to do the same thing with her rocking version of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”. The original doesn’t compare to this rendering, and only time will tell how it is received by the rest of the world.

The album ends with the track “Don’t Leave”. Olivia’s vocals are morose and haunting yet elegant and beautiful. The song has a poignant guitar solo, and organ fills that I’m willing to bet she performed herself. Truly however, the saddest part of the song is that it is the end of the album. It was a great way to leave you wanting more.

Olivia will be starting her tour May 5th at the Nashville location of Third Man Records in support of her new album. The venues are still small and intimate so I would suggest seeing her up close and personal while you still can. She has “it”, and it would be a shame if she were not playing much larger venues in the future.

https://www.oliviajeanmusic.com

Track Listing:

  • Raving Ghost
  • Too Late
  • The Spider
  • Trouble
  • I Need You
  • Ditch
  • Fun
  • Fate
  • Orinoco Flow
  • Godmother
  • Don’t Leave

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