Needle Drop: Olivia Henry, “Forbidden”

Olivia Henry’s seductive neo jazz is exactly the kind of blue-eyed-soul needed to get the soirée started. Sounding like a cross between Sara Bareilles and Erykah Badu, Olivia scats and powders her songs with colorful vocals and kittenish lyrics while her A-List band fills in the groove with Dap-Kings-esque excellence.

Henry dishes out her new single, “Forbidden” like a songbird plucked from the Jazz Age—primed for the sexually liberated millennium. It is a fascinating play on a retro aesthetic that reaches back, past the reformatted sounds of Lana Del Ray and Amy Winehouse, grabbing rich musical threads from the roaring twenties. The track itself, recorded in pristine high definition, filters the past through electric rock distortion and hard-hitting hip hop drums. It is an intoxicating brew that lends the flirtatious lyrics a more modern backdrop.

“Forbidden” is off Olivia’s debut, “Sessions” which was recorded with renowned British producer Chris Hughes. With Olivia providing the raw material in the form of smart, well-crafted songs, Hughes milks Henry’s classically trained voice into a stunning 4 song EP awash with sexy and nostalgic R&B—with just the right amount of edge to translate into the language of mainstream pop.

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