Monday, 22 January 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Orphan Colours - All On Red : At The Helm Records

Orphan Colours are a new name on the UK recording scene, although its inhabitants are no mere novices. Born out of members from acclaimed British bands: ahab, Noah & the Whale and Danny & the Champions of the World, this buoyant ‘hot off the press’ collaboration is set to map out a promising future with the release of their full length debut album titled ALL ON RED. Whether all their chips are being placed on one colour or not, widespread acclaim is assured to, at least provide a base for a stab of some remnants of commercial success. Throwing their hat into the ring of UK Americana may suggest some kind of niche outlook, yet there is absolutely no reason why the mainstream cannot slide back into the clear and accessible rock sound that emanates from this record. If you subscribe to the original ideals of Americana tumbling out of the old adage ‘too country for rock: too rock for country’, then you will be at least be travelling on the same highway as Orphan Colours.

The namechecks of Tom Petty and Jason Isbell quoted in the bio provides more than an implied direction for this band’s track to follow. Throw in lashings of sax, especially in the early stages of the record, and you can add shades of the E Street Band, or in a different universe, Danny & the Champions of the World in full soulful flow.

Getting an album off to a rousing start is often a wise decision and Orphan Colours have certainly achieved that with the resounding trio of ‘Start of Something’, ‘High Hopes’ and ‘Goodnight California’. The middle song has been the single choice to chase some early airplay, while the latter of the three proceeds a long way to encapsulating the influences and feel of the album. Indeed, settling on this as the eventual stand out track will be a smart move.

Whether stretching the album to fifty-one minutes works as a whole is open to debate, especially when such peaks have been climbed early on. There is a generally more laid back drifting feel to the latter stages pondering the thought whether mixing the tempo may have enhanced the impact. ‘Sarah’, ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Rambling Rose’ do roll out as low-key closers, when perhaps more fitting climax numbers may have left the listener chomping at the bit for more.

Throughout the record, ample evidence is found of this being a tight knit sound, rife with satisfying riffs and interludes. This presents it as more than a nod in the direction of those iconic American rock bands that pioneered the genre spreading its sprawling wings in the dawning of the classic album. The UK music scene will be richer from more bands practising this approach, so with a January release ALL ON RED makes an early case for an album to spearhead this theme in 2018.

Maybe after scaling its initial heights, a gradual comedown was required mid album, exemplified in the gentle laid-back stroller ‘Lonely Lately’. Prior to this, ‘Waiting’ is another track, which succeeds in finding its groove, while the listener takes a back seat. There will be a school of thought that this album is prize-packaged for the turntable revivalists and one where its entirety will become a slow burner. In light of this possible view, at least the openers possess the early strength to open a few doors.

A marker has been placed down that Orphan Colours intend to create some waves in 2018 and ALL ON RED will be their vital ally. A timely reminder that us Brits can punch above our weight when it comes to taking on an established scene many thousands of miles away. 

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