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P.J. Olsson
Beautifully Insane
by Katie Sauro
 
If P.J. Olsson isn’t the epitome of appearances being deceiving, I don’t know who is.  The cover of his second album,
Beautifully Insane, shows an all-American golden boy with handsome, chiseled features and a guitar slung over one shoulder.  It looks innocent enough, I thought.  Most likely just a few simple folk songs on an acoustic guitar, probably a solo effort, nothing too original.
 
Once the record began to play, however, I was delightfully surprised to be bombarded by an eclectic mix of blues, funk, and psychedelic beats, all underlying Olsson’s smoky, soulful voice.
 
The first single off
Beautifully Insane is “Three Light Years and a Day,” a blues-inspired pop song that reminds me a bit of Seal.  It is one of the more mainstream songs on the album, and I can definitely see it getting airplay on commercial radio.  
 
The songs on the album are all incredibly quirky and fun, varying from funky beats, such as those on “Soul Soul Superstar,” a tribute to Grandmaster Flash, to the acid-trip that is “Ocean of Blue,” to slower, acoustic songs like “Tomorrow.”  Throughout the record, Olsson never loses his penchant for – and talent for – creating a truly unique sound that blends and modernizes '60s soul, '70s funk, and rhythm and blues.
 
Not only is Olsson a talented musician, but he is also an accomplished songwriter, penning some incredibly eccentric songs, like the first song on the album, the aptly titled “Visine” – a stoner’s tribute to the wacky tobacky.
 
My favorite song on the album is probably “Perfect.”  It’s a pretty little folk song with beautiful string arrangements floating over the top.  I think my proclivity for this particular song lies in the deep gruffness of Olsson’s voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar, as it sounds a little like Tom Petty. 
 
With his newest effort, Olsson is able to preserve the perfect balance of talent and insanity, succeeding in creating an incredibly smart, interesting record that is definitely worth checking out.
 

Beautifully Insan
e is set for release on September 27, 2005.