Singer-songwriter Olivia Henry’s first-ever music video has been a long time coming. Having released several singles, an EP, and her debut LP Expectations earlier this year, Henry was more than ready for a bold visual, and on “Beautiful,” she delivers. It’s all too fitting that the track – with its acoustic guitar, an R&B thickness, and Henry’s songbird warble – is all about anticipation and release. In the visual, the LA native celebrates pulsing intimacy and sexuality, as she tangles with a chiseled-jaw beau.
“Beautiful,” produced by Stephen Douglas Makuta, makes a bold statement. In many ways, it is the culmination of Henry’s entire journey and a rallying crying for herself. Following the release of her 2014 debut EP, Sessions, she was diagnosed with various autoimmune conditions and was forced to take a lengthy hiatus. Henry, whose style naturally leans neo-soul and jazz, did not reemerge until 2018’s “Gotta Run” and “In My Touch,” the album’s magnetic lead-in issued in early 2019.
Expectations is a sharp eight-track release. Olivia Henry bares her soul, from the venomous “In My Touch” to the haunting “Love Me” and piano-tuned closer “Crazy.” Her musical adeptness is as charming and transfixing as her vocal prowess. As far as debuts go, it shows undeniable promise for a lengthy, totally satisfying career.
In writing “Beautiful,” the opera-trained performer leaned into its “provocative, vampish, seductie” nature to craft a style all her own. That commitment to dripping sensuality, musically and lyrically, pulls the listener into a Nora Roberts romance novel. She also plays with “juxtaposing flirtatious lyrics with slow chord progressions and a haunting acoustic guitar,” she tells Audiofemme.
The video supplies the necessary color palettes, camera work, and performances to punctuate all of the above. Every single frame tantalizes the viewer; it’s an invitation to reconnect with one’s own fantasies. “My desire for the video was to encompass all of that, while still maintaining an intimacy in the storytelling,” she explains. Henry worked closely with director and dear friend Cat Ventura in plotting out the video, initially exchanging ideas over tea and coffee at a cafe nestled in Los Feliz.
Ventura sought to create “a world you could luxuriate in, and as she put it: ‘get lost in the intoxicating feeling of new love without sacrificing the ability [for me] to have the freedom to follow [my] instincts as an artist,’” Henry remembers. “Then, it was all hands on deck with my micro, independent artist budget, and we knocked it out in a 12-hour day. I am incredibly proud of how it turned out, and so grateful for the unbelievable group of people who worked on it as well. Did I say I was excited?”