BY FRED MILLS
A core member of the so-called Third Man Records’ “stable,” rock ‘n’ roll filly Olivia Jean steps out from her band the Black Belles for a solo jaunt that’s one part classic ‘60s girl group pop, one part Music City USA twang and one part Nuggets inspired garage. That its angular, kinetic gonzoid qualities compare favorably to Third Man majordomo Jack White’s solo work isn’t a fluke, either, as White produced the album and contributes guest guitar on one track. Also guesting on a couple of tunes is Patrick Keeler (Greenhornes, Raconteurs), wile holding down bass and drums on a number of cuts are Dominic Davis and Whip Triplett; and The Ettes’ Coco Hames gets a co-writing credit on one of the album’s standout songs, the swaggering, strutting “Green Honeycreeper.”
But in the final estimation, Bathtub Love Killings is Olivia Jean’s show. She holds down acoustic and electric guitar duties as well as all the keyboards and vocals, putting her twinned signature stamp of seductress kitten/wronged lover on pretty much every number. In addition to “Green Honeycreeper” highlights include the pulsing, hypnotic “Mistakes,” in which she sings of an ill-timed affair that left her shamed and blacklisted by so-called friends; the creepy, minimalist “Excuses,” a kind of distaff take on the Minutemen if you can believe that; and a mostly instrumental slice of psychedelic garage, delightfully titled “Cat Fight” and featuring Mr. White and Ms. Jean indulging, indeed, a fretboard battle.
Though the vinyl album seems oddly paced and zig-zags from one style to another without regard to what the listener might be expecting, those qualities ultimately become part of its charms. Over the course of repeated listens, these tunes’ hooks gradually sink deep, leaving you humming ‘em for the rest of the day and well into the evening.
DOWNLOAD: “Cat Fight,” “Green Honeycreeper,” “Mistakes”