Rock/Surf Punk Review: Olivia Jean-Night Owl

Release Date:  August 30, 2019
Label:  Third Man Records

After waiting five years for something new, fans finally got their fix with Olivia Jean’s latest release, "Night Owl." On her debut album, the versatile Ms. Jean plays all the instruments.  Night Owl brings reinforcements in the form of a backing band that helps to refine her unique and enigmatic sound. Ms. Jean blends rockabilly, surf & punk with soft and expressive vocals to produce a sharp and infective result. 

Born out of Jack White's Third Man Records incubator, Ms. Jean broke from her first band, The Black Belles, and now stands apart from Mr. White's shadow with her signature hook-driven sound. And they call them hooks for a reason. They're sharp and instantly take hold of you. Her signature black Gretsch guitar is searing, burning holes through the listener's preconceived notions and expectations. Like a pro surfer riding a cruncher, Ms. Jean's haunting melodies ride the shifting riffs masterfully. Occasionally veering off for a stunt or two, she returns to ease the listener safely to shore. 

"Garage Bats," "Night Owl," and "Brushfire" are rockers while the obscure cover of the classic Bollywood song "Jaan Pehechaan Ho" is a ride to the ocean in a convertible with the top down. Unlike her debut album, where Ms. Jean breaks out the acoustic guitar for the aforementioned "Haunt" me, on Night Owl, she opts to stay plugged in. Therein lies my sole wish for this album, that she gives us more of a taste of the stripped-down Patsy Cline inspired sound, which exposes both her vocal range and musical vulnerability. It seems "Can You Help Me" and "In Two" pose significant opportunities to unplug for a bit.

All told, Night Owl crackles with an energy that a 3-minute song structure struggles to contain. The fourteen songs packed into this thirty-seven-minute album pull no punches whatsoever. Play it loud, play it often, and please, Ms. Jean, don't keep us waiting another five years for another release.    

Tom Endyke - MuzikMan.net Staff

November 5, 2019

Rate the Tracks

01. Garage Bat
02. Night Owl
03. Shut Your Mouth
04. Brushfire
05. In Two
06. If You Don’t Love Me by Now
07. Rhinestone
08. The Hunt
09. Jaan Pehechaan Ho
10. Can You Help Me?
11. Siren Call
12. I Used to Be Lonely
13. Perfume
14. Tsunami Sue


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