Album Review: Olivia The Band, “Olivia The Band” (2005)

I remember when I first heard of Olivia the Band. It was earlier this spring, and I was at my one of my best friend, Olivia’s (no relation to the band) house, and she put on their self-titled debut and made me listen to it. During the first listen, quite a few songs stood out to me, and she burned their self-titled debut for me to take home and enjoy.

Soon, I was a bona-fide fan. Their faith filled songs, and catchy beats had me listening to their CD non-stop, and when the guys held a free show at a church in town, Olivia (the person, not the band) and I had to go. The concert is another story in itself (which I might post a review on one day), but the guys continued the energy of the album with their live show, making me an even bigger Olivia (the band, not the person- this is really amusing me!) follower. We even got to meet the guys- all of whom were really nice and very passionate about the Lord.

Anyway, the Olivia the Band CD is such a treat, and even though I was introduced to them this spring, their CD is still in heavy rotation on my CD player.

The disc starts off with energetic track, Stars & Stripes.  This was one of the singles, and I remember hearing it on Christian radio before I heard of the band, but it wasn’t anything that really stuck out in my head. This song has a surfer-type feel to it, as many of the Olivia songs do, I guess since the guys are from Hawaii. This song is about not being alone, because God is always with us- a good message, but I think the music is a bit too busy and the theme actually gets lost. That, and the fact that some of the words in the chorus are kind of jumbled; it took me forever to realize that they were saying “I walk alone” instead of something in Hawaiian.

Butterflies
follows, as a light and bouncy track about waiting for Jesus to come back and reign again, but you won’t really get that point within the first few listens. There’s a bunch of unneeded verses and bridges that distract from the actual meaning of the song, which is weird. Despite that, there’s some nice guitar work going on in the background, and unlike its predecessor, the melody doesn’t distract from the lyrics. Along the Way is a track I NEVER listen to, though I’m starting to reconsider. It’s a pretty easy-going song about how when we’re first saved we are so eager to spend time with Jesus (“looking back at times when it was just You and me”), but along the way in life, we tend to separate from Him. I LOVE the lyrics here- they are raw and honest, which is appealing, but this song isn’t as catchy as some of the songs that appear later, so a lot of times I’d rather skip this one and move onto the better tracks on the album.

On the other hand, Heaven is my favourite song on the album, and one of my favourite songs, period. It starts off very soft and quiet and the opening chords remind me of the Incubus song, “Aqueous Transmission; very mellow and soothing. The lead singer, Reed, soon comes in and begins describing how he will react when Jesus comes back (“My voice will crack/The notes will shake/Ground will move/And the mountains quake”). After the first verse, heavy guitars and drums appear, but the transition is smooth and works nicely. Just as suddenly, the music fades back to a more subdued state as Reed continues to describe Jesus’ fight with Satan (“The battle fought/The war is won/The Devil done/God’s Kingdom come/Jesus has won”). I love this song so much- musically it is such a treat- the transition between soft production, to loud guitars and drums is flawless, and of course, the lyrics are wonderful. I tend to like songs that are about Heaven (one of my other favourite songs is I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe), cause who doesn’t like dreaming of what’s to come? My favourite part is around 3:20 when all the production is stripped down to drums and the guys harmonizing as they sing “hallelujah” in a round for several minutes. As the song ends, Reed sings, “This is heaven”, and the track fades out. Pure beauty.

Shut It Out is a great choice after such a deep song as Heaven. This track is very upbeat and straight forward in its meaning; humbling yourself and accepting that you need God’s help. The thing I love about this song is how for the first half the guys seem assured that they will do just fine without God’s guidance. But for the last verse, the lyrics change up a bit as they realize how wrong they are (“I wanna talk about it/Don’t wanna shut it out/I am as bad as You think/The things I do aren’t right/You got it under control/Lord, I need Your help”). I think everyone has dealt with this same experience before. Saturdayis an easy-going number about enjoying life and being thankful for the things around you. The guys wrote it while in Hawaii, and it’s about their native land, and that is definitely reflected in the cheerful music and lyrics (my favourite line is “Sing along with angels as they cry/Thank you for life/Never taking every breath or every second for granted/I will fail, but I will try”). The harmonies here are great as well; this song is such a treat to listen to.

Kill The Grey is a bit of a harder sound, with the first few chords sounding reminiscent of Audio Slave’s “In My House”. This song is another one of my favourites- Olivia (the person) and I love to sing it, alternating the lines as Reed and Christian do on the recording. This song is again, a lot heavier than some of the other punk-sounding songs on the album, but it works well. This song (and I got this straight from Reed, cause I asked him at the concert ;)), is all about getting stuck in a rut of depression, and wanting to get out.  The lyrics describe this nicely, as the guys cry out, “I’m waiting/For the storms to break/The clouds to go away/Soon/There will be colours/To kill/Kill the grey/Awaken a new day”. Halfway through the song, the tempo picks up, and it’s like seeing the song go from black and white to Technicolor as Reed sings “Wake up new day/Wake up new day”. The transitions in this song, much like Heaven are drastic, and I actually remember wondering if I was listening to the same song when I first heard this, but again it works really well.

Novocain is another heavy number, with Reed painting the picture of him being at a gruesome movie but not being affected by the graphic images at all. The song goes on to present more examples of how we are desensitized by the media until “emotion is dead”. I really like this song, and I think it’s so true- so many people aren’t affected by things anymore, and it has gotten to the point where people can watch horrible stories on the news and not even blink.

The album comes to a close with Missing, another one of my personal favourites. I think I can really relate to this song, because I tend to focus on all the little annoyances in life and forget what the REAL purpose of life is all about. The song starts off asking the listener (it’s from God’s point of view) if they’ve noticed all the little, beautiful things in life, instead of the bad. The chorus is my favourite (“If you take the time/You’ll see/There’s something missing/You’re missing the fun/Missing the run/Missing it all/You’re missing Me/Missing the point/Of your every breath/Missing it all/You’re missing me”). This song is almost acoustic- it’s very stripped down to just acoustic guitar, the guy’s vocal harmonies, and perhaps a tambourine (I can’t really tell, and I don’t have the liner notes seeing as how I’m listening to the burnt copy Olivia-the person- gave me). The song leads off with the sounds of the ocean; seagulls calling, and waves lapping- making for a beautiful end to a great album.

Olivia The Band is a great CD. If you’re a fan of Relient K or Switchfoot, you’re bound to like Olivia and their Hawaiian-infused songs about life, and God.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Stars & Stripes
2. Butterflies
3. Along The Way
4. Heaven
5. Shut It Out
6. 39
7. Saturday
8. Kill The Grey
9. Look To The Stars
10. Novocaine
11. Kid Innocence
12. Missing

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL2eucSZzOA]

*This is a “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.

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