Hands up! Until her latest album dropped into my inbox I hadn’t, for some unfathomable reason, crossed paths with rocking Australian six-stringer Orianthi.
Even though this fine antipodean musician has worked with many rock luminaries, giving her a ‘rap sheet’ that reads like a who’s who of the genre, Orianthi hadn’t cropped up on my musical radar.
Three years as an integral part of Alice Cooper’s touring band followed by four years touring and recording with Richie Sambora and even working with names as diverse as Michael Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Dave Stewart and Steve Vai Orianthi, somehow, remained unknown to myself.
However, with ‘O’, Orianthi’s first studio album in seven years, now a fixture on my current playlist matters have been happily rectified.
Whilst this is her third studio album it’s her debut release for legendary independent rock label Frontiers Music Srl. Orianthi, excitedly, commented “I am thrilled about this new chapter with Frontiers!
Their passion and enthusiasm for music is such a great reminder of why I love creating music. I couldn’t be more excited to release my upcoming album with them.”
The album bursts into life with the effervescent opener ‘Contagious’ fizzing about with a high level of kinetic energy.
With Orianthi singing “They shall not break us ‘cause hate is contagious”, confronting a most relevant issue, the catchy chorus does exactly what it ‘says on the tin’.
The distortion is turned right up for the edgy ‘Sinners Hymn’ drenched with a dirty-blues rock riff that firecracker Orianthi delivers with complete aplomb.
The blues comes further to the fore in the soulful ‘Rescue Me’; a slow, rootsy intro with a pseudo-gospel intimation explodes with Orianthi’s six strings coursing with electrifying licks that is sure to appease even the darkest of souls.
The opening strains of ‘Blow’ are a gentle affair, with Orianthi’s vocals redolent of Sharleen Spiteri’s on Texas’ 1989 7” ‘Everyday Now’, before the song’s fusewire is lit and detonates into a killer solo coupled with the declaration “I want to blow your mind”.
The overall modern, programmed feel of ‘Sorry’ fused with the stonking solo that punctuates proceedings gives a diverse balance. There are raw feelings and soul aplenty in the lyrics in which Orianthi, strangely, sounds in parts like Alison Goldfrapp.
The highly emotional ballad ‘Crawling Out Of The Dark’; stripped right back this acoustic meld of country and blues showcases not only Orianthi’s fine fretwork but a wonderfully crystal-clear voice that could lure the most hardened of seafarers onto the rocks.
A surefire standout. With a Stones swagger Keith Richards would be proud of all-out rocker ‘Impulsive’ adds some AC/DC chops to leave me wondering when Angus is going to duck-walk through matters in his own indomitable style.
Throwing the blue-collar soul of Johnny Cash into the melting pot with the rock prowess of Slash seems a volatile combination but Orianthi pulls this off in the country-rocker ‘Streams Of Consciousness’ that pays its dues to the infamous LA rock scene.
‘Company’ embraces the diversity of ‘O’ with a return to a modern, slick production that is tempered with celestial vocals, buzzsaw riffs and rock-steady rhythms.
Closing the album ‘Moonwalker’ is an infectious number with Orianthi’s soulful vocals entwined with a metronomic beat and a blues-drenched solo; such is the variance on offer within this quality surprise package.
Review by Gary Spiller for MPM