October 18, 2022
Photo: Richie Sambora

There is an adage that if you are known by only your first name in the music business then you can quite rightly say that you have made it. There are any number of examples of this but maybe not as many as we all suspect and Orianthi sits comfortably in this class. Of course, it helps if you have something of a left of centre name but being unusual is a good thing to be and even her full name of Orianthi Penny Pangaris is full of mystery and intrigue.

Orianthi is an Australian musician of Greek parentage being a singer and song writer and her career has been on an ever-upwards curve ever since she strapped her first six string to her side. Indeed, you are a marketing man’s dream when you are beautiful, sing like an angel and play guitar live a devil; what a combination! She put out the single According To You in 2009 which achieved good sales and, more importantly, gained a fair amount of chart success in the United States which eventually led to musical recognition from a number of artists including Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper resulting in her becoming a touring guitarist with Cooper and joining rehearsals for a tour planned by Jackson which was only halted by his untimely death. Orianthi has also been endorsed by Gibson Guitars and Guitar International which obviously means that she is the real deal and just a quick listen to any of her albums proves that she is an exceptional guitarist playing with desire and emotion rather than speed or self-indulgence which makes her playing fresh and invigorating. Crucially, Orianthi also has a great rock voice which can be sweet and clear or downright dirty depending on whether it’s a ballad or hard rocking track.

Rock Candy is now her fifth album and follows on from the very well received O album from 2022 and the live album, Live From Hollywood, which she put out earlier this year. Her playing style switches smoothly and seamlessly with moments of metal tempered by melodic rock and then she infuses a touch of blues rock which means there is something here for just about every rock fan to appreciate and enjoy. The ballads are bright, breezy and smouldering with a burning passion but she really comes alive when cranking up the power with all songs featuring plenty of infectious hooks and vocal harmonies. Her song writing is exceptional too with everything being radio friendly and having that instant appeal that continues to serve her well. She has recruited well for this album with the Emmy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, song writer, composer and producer Jacob Bunton playing bass, guitar, keyboards, piano, violin and backing vocals with Kyle Cunningham on drums and what a very effective power trio they are. Bunton has also produced the album and what a stunning job he has done as the sound is wonderfully clean and punchy with just the right amounts of fuzz and reverb when required.

The album is relatively short at just 31-minutes but this is an exercise in precision with the songs doing just what is needed and the band bring them to life, tell the story and then move onto the next track; nothing is over long or overstays its welcome. Orianthi provides exquisite guitar throughout with a wonderful style that seems to be something of an amalgam of Joe Bonamassa, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Healey which gives an indication of just how good a guitarist she is.

Hard rock with a blues undertone from an artist who deserves all the acclaim and more that has already come her way, and with albums like Rock Candy in her locker then the future is bright indeed.

Rock Candy

  1. Illuminate (Part I) (0:57)
  2. Light It Up (3:49)
  3. Fire Together (3:24)
  4. Where Did Your Heart Go (2:58)
  5. Red Light (2:46)
  6. Void (3:25)
  7. Burning (2:48)
  8. Living Is Like Dying Without You (4:00)
  9. Witches & The Devil (1:59)
  10. Getting To Me (2:53)
  11. Illuminate (Part II) (2:04)