By Mike O’Cull
Platinum-selling recording artist and world-class guitarist Orianthi proves that she still has what it takes to make the world pay attention on her new album ‘O.’ The set emerged November 6th, 2020 on the legendary independent rock label Frontiers Records and is her first release on the imprint. ‘O’ is an excellent modern hard rock effort that walks a perfect line, balancing Orianthi’s vocal, guitar, and songwriting talents to end up with a record capable of moving the people while still delivering the six-string goods to the world’s guitar fans. It’s her first new studio album in seven years and her first new music as a solo artist in six years. She channels a unique vibe on it that melds blazing guitar work, big vocal hooks, electronic sounds, and tight writing together into accessible tracks that have a high degree of artistic integrity.
Orianthi is an Australian export who first garnered notice in 2009 with her debut single “According To You” on Geffen Records, which is now RIAA-Certified Platinum and has over 17 million streams on Spotify, and for landing the lead guitar spot on Michael Jackson’s ill-fated This Is It tour. She has also played with shock-rock king Alice Cooper’s touring band. Her music has experienced a resurgence recently on the social media platform TikTok, a happening that makes the timeless nature of her work abundantly clear. Her “According To You” hashtag has received over 83 million views, officially making Orianthi a viral sensation. She’s the link between the eternal stars she’s made music with like Carrie Underwood, Carlos Santana, and Steve Vai and the online Generation Z audience currently driving the mainstream music industry.
Orianthi goes hard from the start with the powerfully-rocking anthem “Contagious.” It’s a socially conscious track packed with big guitars, a wide sense of dynamics, and a message of survival that’s especially relevant this year. “They shall not break us ‘cause hate is contagious,” she sings with total rock and roll commitment, defiantly speaking her piece. She also drops in a short, ripping guitar solo that adds a lot to the song’s boldness. “Sinners Hymn” gets heavier and more audacious, using huge, fuzzed-up distorted guitar tones that rub right up against icy synths and sit on top of slamming drum sounds. Orianthi’s guitar solo is slashing and full of fire, displaying her talent for texture alongside her considerable technique.
“Sorry” is a killer pop-influenced cut constructed from programmed beats and infused with an unbeatable hit-single chorus. Unlike most pop records these days, it also comes complete with some edgy rock playing that flies high over the track’s funky groove. It’s this kind of intelligent, skillfully-played pop/rock material that points to Orianthi’s personal genius and reminds us all that songs needn’t be dumb or simplistic to be memorable.
The atmospheric heartbreak-to-redemption ballad “Crawling Out Of The Dark” is one of the most enjoyable songs contained on ‘O’ and shows off Orianthi’s softer side. Both her guitar and vocal work are emotional and tasteful and the track is an ideal stylistic shift from the firepower of her other tunes. She again blurs the lines between rock and pop in an individual way that points to her mastery of both genres and an ability to bend them to her will. For more of Orianthi’s particular flair and inventiveness, check out “Streams Of Consciousness,” “Impulsive,” and “Moonwalker.” Orianthi is a multi-dimensional artist who takes her creative obligations seriously and has crafted a smart and muscular pop/rock sound based on old-school skills and modern methods that’ll get inside your mind and stay there. ‘O’ is a welcome new record from one of today’s finest.