Olivia Henry, from Los Angeles, has known all her life that she’s wanted to sing, and she shared that passion with the world. with her debut EP, ‘Sessions’, released in 2014. The recrord demonstrated Olivia’s gift for taking a retro-jazz sound and recrafting it into an alterna-pop format, and set her on a seemingly rocketlike trajectory to the stars. Sadly this was not to be, because following the release of ‘Sessions’, Olivia was forced to put her career on hold, as she was diagnosed with a variety of joint-related auto-immune conditions.
Speaking of that time, Olivia reflected,
“The worst part of those years—confided to a bed, wasting away, horrible pain—was the sense that my life had no purpose. In those moments, I really took solace in my music heroes and found inspiration in the idea that I could create music that might bring someone else an emotional catharsis or even an escape.”
Olivia has fought back, with her new album, ‘Expectations’, released on February 10, which sees her transition from a neo-jazz darling, to full blown Cinematic Pop songstress, with her sound reminiscent of the likes of Jill Scott, Amy Winehouse and Sara Bareilles.
Opening with ‘In My Touch’, we’re left in no doubt that Olivia is back, and with a vengeance as she minces no words with the lyrics – “don’t fuck with me cos I don’t have the time to give free”.
Continuing with ‘Beautiful’, squeaky guitar strings set the stage for her neo-jazz badass sound; she pulls no punches and shows she’s a woman not to be messed with. ‘No More’ is piano-led raunchiness, and this is where the comparisons to Amy Winehouse come in, along with maybe the likes of Pussycat Dolls, Little Mix and other no-nonsense females.
Favourite track on the album, ‘Love Me’, starts out rich and anthemic, with strings and piano setting the pace for Olivia’s crisp, near-perfect vocals. Track 5, ‘Tear Me Apart’, is upbeat with a vaguely disco flavour, while ‘Gotta Run’ visits electro-pop territory, with more of the Amy Winehouse vibes.
Penultimate of the eight tracks on the album, ‘D.W.A.M.’ harks back to the early 80s with a sound that could easily come from Fleetwood Mac, or Supertramp – even Kate Bush. Finally, the piano-led ‘Crazy’, laid back and ballad-y, feels like a soliloquy from a musical. It’s the perfect track for live performance, and well-suited for a quiet moment in the set list.