After making a totally bitchin’ album about female empowerment, rage, and how men are assholes, Juliana Hatfield does a 180 and comes out with an album of covers by music’s most wholesome star of the ’70s and early ’80s: Olivia Newton John.
So, how is it? Well, let’s get this out of the way first:
Yeah, Physical is on there. And it’s pretty good, but it’s not Earth shattering. It’s also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, FAR FROM THE BEST SONG ON THE ALBUM.
Let me start from the beginning: When I was a kid, I didn’t get crushes on movie stars or models, I got crushes on singers. Pat Benetar, Debbie Harry and Olivia Newton John. And what was not to love about Olivia? Pure as Princess Di and naughty as Sandra Dee in leather.
But even I had to conceded that some of her songs were just plain treacle.
The astonishing thing about Hatfield’s tribute is she doesn’t shy away from songs like “I Honestly Love You” or “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Not only does she not shy away, she makes them…Fantastic.
In virtually all the cases, she’s not changing the arrangements up very much–but somehow, Hatfield’s 1990s voice coupled with the addition of heavy guitar transforms these songs into something modern and wonderful.
This album gets my highest recommendation.