Orianthi - O

Orianthi O cover
Frontiers Music srl
Pretty young miss Panagaris, she with the name that means pretty flower, has been quite a lucky one. Due to having more than decent chops, as well as a nice presence and probably great timing she’s managed in the last decade or so to go from being selected as a guitarist for what was Michael Jackson's final stand – “The This is It” residency – which was not meant to be, when the latter died tragically before the shows went on, to touring and recording with the great Alice Cooper. In the meantime she has also managed to release three solo albums, which demonstrated that she could stand on her own two and not play second fiddle to others as well as a collaboration with former beau and former Bon Jovi guitarist Ritchie Sambora that was probably not along the lines of what people might have expected from either. Freshly signed to Frontiers miss Panagaris is trying to catch up with the solo career with an album called “O”…
Hmm so what is this story of “O”, all about? “Contagious” opens with a heavy beat, feeling like neo-Cooper / Marilyn Manson, before it mellows down considerably to accommodate for Miss O’s vocal and guitar style. The strong percussive and in your face element comes around for the choruses, but while it’s not bad, by any means and the solo is all sorts of nice, ripping the whole main cadenza of “Gates of Babylon” as a hook, while making no attempt to conceal the fact, sort of makes you go hmm…. also the fuzzy tone and processed vocals – detract, rather than attract.
“Sinner’s Hymn” tries to impress – it was in fact released as a single – but despite it’s big dynamics – it’s mid-tempo and shouty chorus sounds more like Nirvana (“Heart Shaped Box”) than anything else… and it’s kinda sad that the lead stuff is so mashed up and almost obscured by the percussion being mixed quite high.
“Rescue Me” is more like it, a bluesy rocker that does get loud and is not afraid to utilize modern production values, but still doesn’t muck about or lose sight of its mission, with even some nice “’harp-monica” coming along before it’s shit hot solo… definitely more like it! I also think this would make a neat duet with some male talent (as Rob Halford would put it – oooer Mister!)…
“Blow” makes me wonder what it’s all about… but its electronic tinged intro feels like a bad choice, as it detracts from the sultriness of the vocal. At least when the song roars into a higher gear it does so in an impressive way and the solo does blow you away… but again – I think that OP should stick with a less is more approach… it’s not dated. It’s classic. As long as you got the songs, which she sort of gets right, or right about… the style of delivery is almost secondary.
“Sorry” again has these programmed beats and while it’s main idea is not bad, as well as it’s chorus when it finally is revealed, doesn’t groove as it would with a real band. Plus, I sort of hear a break in there, which would have lifted the song and made that chorus a thousandfold more effective that there is simply absent. C’mon!
“Crawling out of the Dark” is this nude ballad, guitar and naked vocals (and well some light strings) and its simplicity is endearing… an earnest song about heartbreak… that miss O pours her little heart over – and you can hear it… in the passionate performance and sublime solo… good un. A keeper.
“Impulsive” tries to go back to the start, with a contemporary take on Miss O’s classic rock roots – that are showing… somewhere in there – under a layer of fuzz – is a nice enough song…
“Stream of Consciousness” suffers pretty much from the same issues… only here it’s the solo and the chorus that work and not so much the verses.
The modernity continues with “Company” and more processed vocals… which, I mean a vocal slide here or there, might make for a nice effect, but trying to go this much electronic, doesn’t mean that you’re also supersonic – to quote the great Vlad. A potential nice “proper Poper” loses its strength diluted in a seas of effects and fuzz. I love the song, but I’d take a more streamlined approach to the production any day. More Belinda Carlisle than anything 90s, if ye know what I mean.
“Moonwalker” is probably a dedication to the late “King of Pop” and here Miss O is going for a simpler approach and it friggin works. Both here vocals and everything else sounds so much better because of it. Clarity – not clatter.
Japan gets a piano/string version of “Crawling out Of the Dark”, which is neato and maybe even better than the album one. A real nice addition.
I guess, I liked a handful of songs on the album a lot, production made me raise an eyebrow on a few tunes I’d have liked… and that kinda sad, since a few tweaks might have made this album a whole lot more enjoyable than it is, since the potential and the songs are already there, along with the talent.