Orianthi – Rock Candy

Frontiers Records

Release Date: October 14th 2022

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Orianthi– Rock Candy (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Illuminate Pt. 1
  2. Light It Up
  3. Fire Together
  4. Where Did You Heart Go
  5. Red Light
  6. Void
  7. Burning
  8. Living is Like Dying Without You
  9. Witches And The Devil
  10. Getting To Me
  11. Illuminate Pt. II

As a site, we love to dive in and listen to and review music from all different genres. I used to only love CCM, but as I’ve gotten older and wiser, and with the knowledge that God can use and often does us mainstream music to point to Him and to teach us more about life and more about Himself; I’m more akin to find the beauty and the objective merit in a mainstream song- probably even more so than a ‘Christian’ song. Jon and I have blogged about many artists, and our musical preferences have expanded beyond what we could ever comprehend even 2-3 years ago. But there’s one genre that I have steered clear from, for a myriad of different reasons. Hard rock music (or maybe you could say heavy metal music) isn’t my ‘cup of tea’, and while whether a song is hard rock or heavy metal or not is up to someone’s interpretation… Skillet and maybe RED is as hard as I go. I would even listen to ‘punk’ music more than hard rock- not because I reckon God’s can’t use that genre, but because I need to keep my ears for my whole life, and certain sacrifices and choices need to be made.

Last year, I stumbled across a hard rock artist called Orianthi. I was ‘introduced’ to this artist via Apple Music in the same way I was with Samantha Harvey; and though I wanted to voice my thoughts on the album Rock Candy which released last year; life got in the way. Shall we divulge into this project now, even after 6-7 months since the album released, and even with me not knowing much about who Orianthi is as a person and as an artist? If you want to know more about Orianthi as an artist, you can check out her Wikipedia page, and her Spotify page. Once you all realise that Orianthi previously played guitars for Michael Jackson and for Carrie Underwood… then I guess you could say that she is a big deal. As a solo artist, Rock Candy is her 5th solo album; and boy is it a musical rollercoaster from start to finish!

‘Living is Like Dying Without You’ is a very dramatic title (laughs), but I wrote that song in like ten minutes! Seriously! I got my acoustic guitar and I just started strumming it, all I had was the title, and Jacob recorded me with a mic in front in the middle of the room. The he said “OK you get on the lyrics for a minute” and I just wrote how I was feeling, and then we recorded it with one microphone and me and Jacob just plying acoustic guitars! And that’s just what you hear in the recording with one or two vocal takes. Then all I did was put a solo on it, and really that’s the recording.

We kept it pretty organic you know. Sometimes, well actually most of the time for me, it takes a year or more to make a record because you record it and then the mixes go back and forth, and there’s a whole process and everything. But with this the thought was ‘let’s just make it inspired and not over-think it’ you know. And calling it ‘Rock Candy’ like the Sammy Hagar, Montrose song – Sammy’s actually a friend of mine – it was funny I sent him the video the other day and Carrie and Sammy came back and said “What’s this Rock Candy?” And I tried to tell them that the title just summed up the record because it’s ‘Rock’ and it’s also ‘Pop.’ Because the last few records have been more sort of ‘Blues guitar based, singer-songwriter, Country Pop Rock’ records whilst this one is just Rock and Pop so I wanted a name that represented that.

I’ve been performing since I was like six years old. I was a real attention whore as a kid! (laughs) It was all about my guitar and Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and The Beatles growing up watching them, but I also started writing songs at six years old and so I was always wanting to show everyone the song I wrote!  And at school at Assemblies I would be asking the teachers if I could open the School Assembly!  And in the classroom, I’d just bring my amplifier in there and start strumming! (laughs) That’s been in me since I was a kid. I just loved to entertain people and play songs for them. (laughs) So I found it very difficult when I couldn’t do that in lockdown. I’d end up singing to a screen which is weird! Or my cat! 

Bookended by two rock interludes titled “Illuminate”, the 9 track project is a joy to listen to, even if you’re not a fan of rock. “Light It Up”, an inspirational rock song of sorts, speaks about rising up and overcoming your adversities (in a Cobra Kai kind of way!), especially when danger is staring at you in the face; while “Fire Together” is a party rock anthem where Orianthi celebrates being alive with her friends and her partner.  “Where Did Your Heart Go”, a sobering and heart-wrenching rock anthem, speaks about Orianthi singing to an ex, telling him that he screwed up her entire world because he left her and didn’t follow through on the promises that he said to her; while the musically-Skillet-esque “Red Light” has Orianthi being introspective and wondering if the toxic relationship she’s in will make her a better person or not- with her concluding that she needs to get out of the relationship in order to grow as a person. “Void”, an existential song, speaks about that void in your chest when everything around you feels empty (a song that should speak to everyone as we all search for meaning and purpose- hopefully in Jesus Christ!); while “Burning” speaks about feeling addicted to toxic relationships and the thrill of being wanted and needed, even if you know they’re not good for your soul.

“Living’s Like Dying Without You” is a track that I could potentially see Avril Lavigne singing, as Orianthi powerfully recounts in this acoustic ballad that she’s not entirely over her ex, and that living right now without them is like dying without them; while “Witches And The Devil” delves deep into the concept of there being a spiritual world, and the fact that things like witches and the devil can steal your soul and can make you feel numb inside. It’s a song that touches upon the spiritual realm, but Orianthi doesn’t sing about how to overcome the darkness in your soul, which isn’t ideal… but the song does remind us of the fact that there is something beyond the here and now. Rock Candy then ends with the melody “Getting To Me”, a savage and brutal takedown of an ex, with Orianthi demanding that he stop ‘getting to her’.

Listening to Rock Candy makes me want to listen more to Orianthi’s previous albums and her entire discography. Despite the brief length of the album (31 minutes!), the project delves deep into hard-hitting issues like heartbreak, spirituality, and grabbing life by the horns and living it to the very fullest. Rock Candy is incredibly energetic and Orianthi deserves to be congratulated. And even if you don’t resonate with hard rock- there may still be something for you on this unique but resonating album. Well done Orianthi, I can’t wait to hear what’s next from you!

It’s kind of crazy because you come all of the way from, you know, such a small town, where I sort of learnt so much: growing up in Adelaide playing in the Pubs because I quit school when I was like 14, 15 so all that time I was playing pubs and clubs until 18 or 19 when I came over to the U.S. But it was a big change, it’s totally different, Adelaide is a great place to grow up, but coming to L.A., and learning the industry too – that’s the toughest part.

I think because I had such a passion for it [guitars] and I was really excited about it… I don’t know how to explain it, but there was a sense of ease because of that, because I don’t think if I hadn’t been so excited about it I would have put the time in, do you know what I’m saying? I can’t say that playing the guitar was the easiest thing but I do play differently every day, I really do and it’s a challenge that I love. I love learning new things, I’m learning from different players all the time, that’s why I love jamming, listening to records or attending shows. But what I like most about the guitar is that I play it differently and so can express myself differently every time I pick it up. I have a healthy collection of guitars!

I’ll be playing with Alice Cooper next month here in Palm Springs, it will be so cool.  There’s Alice, Paul Rodgers and Queens of the Stone Age and Paul McCartney’s band. We’re going out and playing this Theater that Frank Sinatra used to own and we’re trying to save it. So Brian Ray is organizing it, Nancy’s going to be there and I get to do a set as well. It’s going to be fun and for a great cause.  And then I get to pay a show with Billy Gibbons next months too! That will be fun.

3 songs to listen to: Light It Up, Where Did Your Heart Go, Living’s Like Dying Without You

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: Flyleaf, Avril Lavigne, Seventh Day Slumber, Evanescence, Creed, Nickelback

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