As a former member of Soledad Brothers and The Greenhornes, Brian Olive knows a thing or two about rock music. His previous bands sought to bring blues back to rock during the same time that fellow contemporary The White Stripes made their meteoric rise.
Olive takes a somewhat different approach with his self-titled debut. While not having the same raw flavor as his previous efforts, Olive does step back a bit to recreate the imaginative sixties by blending the psychedelic and the soulful.
The result is an energetic, yet mellow album that combines the spontaneity of a jam session with the fervor of a never-ending twilight. And it’s easy to see why, given that Olive recorded his eponymous debut in a basement vault of a former Cincinnati pawnshop with a whole host of guests — from Jared McKinney and Craig Fox (The Greenhornes), to Mike Weinel (ex-Heartless Bastards), and Dan Allaire (ex-Brian Jonestown Massacre) — to join in the fun.
The throwback “Ida Red” starts off with a bang ahead of the twangier “The Day Is Coming (Sainte-Marie’s Dream)” that screams ‘play me’ in a packed dive bar. But oddly though, it’s the more laid-back tracks like the pseudo-boss nova number “Echoing Light” and the folksy ballad “There Is Love” that actually evoke the most memories of a life better enjoyed without a single care in the world. The same goes for the R&B pop of “Jubilee Line” and the strangely seductive jazz offering in “High Low.”
Brian Olive is an extremely diverse album that maximizes the use of simplicity with not a whole lot of fluff and excess. If “Stealin’” sounds rough as if it were recorded live, then you’re partially correct. The Ohio-native Brian Olive used analog tape for the sessions and the natural and cool atmosphere is definitely preserved in his brisk, yet filling debut.