Brian Olive used to deliver potent garage rock guitar with the Greenhornes and blues-punk sax hollering with the Soledad Brothers, but he's expanded his sonic palette in a big way on his first solo album. Most of the tunes on Brian Olive are rooted in rhythm & blues in one way or another, but the man sure isn't shy about showing how many ways he can bend the sound to his will; "Stealin'" is a funky New Orleans second-line shuffle, "Jubilee Line" has a bassline James Jamerson would have been happy to call his own fortified with free jazz sax wailing, "High Low" reveals echoes of 1950s cool jazz for bachelor pads, and "Killing Stone" is a piano-based rocker that recalls the early-'70s Rolling Stones. Olive also dips his toes into breezy faux-tropicalia on the light and sensuous "Echoing Light" and some tripped-out acoustic psychedelia on "There Is Love." Olive clearly scores high on the eclecticism checklist, but he's also a fine songwriter, generating memorable tunes regardless of his stylistic bag, and he's put together a solid backing band for these sessions (including fellow Greenhornes Jared McKinney and Craig Fox and ex-Heartless Bastards Mike Weinel), and if his vocals aren't always as strong as the arrangements that surround them (he sounds more comfortable on the quieter numbers than the ones where he needs to belt it out), he has the right feel if not always the proper degree of force. Overall, Brian Olive is an impressive and pleasing solo debut that shows his chops as a producer, arranger, and songwriter make him more than just some Midwest sideman, and he should get back into the studio posthaste if there's more where this came from.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming