Friday, August 12, 2011

Jen Oliver - I Say Love EP

Visit Jen Olive’s website at the moment and you’ll see it’s “under construction.” Behind the announcement, visitors will see a variety of spinning mushrooms with the occasional UFO spinning into view.

You can forgive her site’s maintenance schedule, as Olive’s been busy working on what counts: the music. And during that creative period, she’s picked up the attention, support, and record label of one Andy Partridge.

The former XTC frontman sees something in Olive, and it’s not hard to understand why. She approaches the pop dynamic with a very angular approach, molding fingerpicked acoustic patterns with off-kilter vocals and ever-changing time signatures.

I Say Love is a six-song Polaroid of Olive’s idiosyncratic approach, kicking things off right out of the gate with the awesome 5/4 time title track that weaves its infectious arrangements into the repeat button in your head.

Surprisingly, the Partridge arrangements are restrained, bringing a sense of minimalistic folk within the song blueprint. And as quickly as you’re comfortable with this approach, Olive starts fucking it over with a different key, a new tempo, or a captured loop that makes the whole thing change direction.

She’s not at the point where we can place Olive on the same level as her left-of-center influences, but in the hands of mentor/supporter Partridge and her own penchant for lysergic daydreams, she’ll rise to the occasion in no time.

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