Music Reviews
Olivia Jean

Olivia Jean

Raving Ghost

Third Man

There was an iconic line in a well-known ad for a popular hair care company back in the 1950s. Us “seasoned” folks remember it well — Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure. To this day, it still speaks to the important and often intimate relationship between a woman and her hairdresser. And I totally get it. In fact, as the straightest tomcat in town, I keep only THREE numbers programmed in the speed dial feature of my trusty iPocket device; my salon gal, my nail tech, and my vinyl record dealer. And they know EVERYTHING about me.

My record dealer, in particular, is all too aware of my personal aural sausage allergy. In the spirit of total transparency, I will confess openly that when it comes to music, I consume an unbalanced diet consisting (almost) entirely of seafood. Truth be told, with the exception of maybe Frank Zappa and Harry Styles, I’d be hard-pressed to name many (if any) music dudes who have anything significant to say to me.

Recently, I popped by my local record outlet to pick up a stack of special order Lillie Mae vinyl. BTW, the plural of vinyl is STILL — vinyl. Anyway, upon my arrival at her shop, my aforementioned savvy record dealer shoved her iPocket device in my face, revealing gleefully a YouTube track she’d been dying to show me. Hmmm. Crunchy riffs: check. Intoxicating vocals: check. A sack-slapping hook: check. Interesting lyrics: check. A living, breathing work of art with jet-black hair, amazing makeup, a skin-tight leather getup, and a sparkly guitar, who resembles one of my “complicated” former flames from ‘04: check, check, check, AND check!

Olivia Jean
Jada and David Parrish
Olivia Jean

Immediately inconsolable and uncontrollable, my reaction was over the top, no doubt about it. But said dealer was well aware of the can of worms she was opening. “Get me two LP copies, PRONTO!”

Honestly, Raving Ghost, the self-produced new solo set from former Black Belles frontchick Olivia Jean could serve easily as a faithful soundtrack for a salacious summer blockbuster in which Dick Dale and Eddie Cochran conquer an acquiescent go-go girl at the Howard Johnson’s near Little Rock following a Lords of Acid meet-and-greet, while the half-dressed Quentin Tarantino lurks in the TV-lit corner — devouring a Royale with cheese — as he flips through the pristine pages of an unblemished Gideon’s. Keep it down over there, fellas. I’m trying to watch wrestling!

In short, Raving Ghost is a spunky little stinger. And while the street-smart songs insist that the record live out in the garage, the polished production and massive musicianship demand more suitable accommodations. We’ll be taking the MASTER BEDROOM, thank you very much!

Driven by a slinky bass line, the hypnotic opening title track packs plenty-o-guitar punch and twinkles with honky-tonk-birthed piano. The keyboard-heavy “Too Late” and “I Need You” seemingly want to play Pong. Conversely, riff-mongers “Fun” and “Fate” clearly prefer Grand Theft Auto.

Taking a dangerous left turn, “Spider” creeps across the barn floor in a menacing fashion, weaving a wonderful web — You’re some terrific pig, Wilbur!

The lead-off video single “Trouble” is a contagious, Jett-fueled fist-pumper, while “Ditch” is a retro-tinged, reverb-soaked lick-fest that appeals intentionally to the nether regions.

Another mood-swinging highlight, the record-closing “Don’t Leave” oozes soulful, churchy organ and is accented further by occasionally frantic, blues-inspired guitar work. Let it breathe, man! Let-it-breathe!

Olivia’s singing, songwriting, and guitar-slinging abilities are superhero caliber, to be sure. However, the record beams just a bit brighter as the result of an equally qualified cast of session cats. Most notably, the perfectly pointed bass work of Erica Salazar brings a smidge more swagger to the songs. And the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in a Tim Burton rom-com musical are…

When leaning on chunky guitars, Raving Ghost christens the tallest stall. However, when it leans on bubbly keyboards, it squats to pee. Fortunately, it pisses FAR more frequently than it tinkles. A fuzzy, buzzy, (generally) down-n-dirty delight, Raving Ghost scratches ALL the right itches. Play. Flip. Play. Repeat.

Raving Ghost Track List

SIDE ONE

  1. Raving Ghost (3:13)

  1. Too Late (3:28)

  1. Spider (4:31)

  1. Trouble (3:31)

  1. I Need You (3:40)

SIDE TWO

  1. Ditch (2:51)

  1. Fun (3:07)

  1. Fate (3:00)

  1. Orinoco Flow (2:37)

  1. Godmother (3:09)

  1. Don’t Leave (4:06)

Olivia Jean


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