In recent years, Orianthi has become one of the most in-demand guitarists in music. Now, as the most turbulent year in recent history comes to a close, she opens a new musical chapter with her fourth solo record, ‘O’.

We wanted to keep it really raw, and that’s definitely what we went for with this album
- Orianthi

Orianthi’s breakthrough came at the 2009 Grammy Awards, where she performed lead guitar alongside country-pop megastar Carrie Underwood. A few months later, she was playing the ‘Beat It’ solo (first improvised in just two takes by Eddie Van Halen back in 1982) in front of Michael Jackson.

“He was so happy he got up and grabbed my arm and started walking up and down the stage area with me,” she explains. “He said, ‘Can you play once for me?’ and hired me that night.” Equipped with a Swarovski crystal-encrusted PRS Custom 24, the plan was for Orianthi to take on lead guitar duties throughout Jackson’s 50-date (!) ‘This Is It’ residency at London’s O2 Arena. Of course, the King Of Pop tragically died just weeks before the scheduled starting date, and Orianthi was back on the hunt for work.

As it turns out, this didn’t take long. Over the next ten years, she performed in support slots for the likes of Mika and Kid Rock, appeared on albums by everyone from Hollywood Vampires to Mary J. Blige, and toured the world with both Richie Sambora and Alice Cooper. Prince even wanted to play table-tennis with her: “He asked me, ‘Do you own a table-tennis table?’ I said I didn’t but I could find one. He said it was going to be him against me and my partner and he insisted he was going to win. He was being really funny.”

In that time, she became an icon to millions of girls who had wanted to take up the guitar, but barely gave herself time to rest. In fact, she’s been so busy that this is her first album since 2007’s ‘Heaven In This Hell’. It’s no surprise that she wanted to tone things down with the release of ‘O’.

“We wanted to keep it really raw, and that’s definitely what we went for with this album,” she says. “It wasn’t over-thought and wasn’t overproduced... and hopefully people will want to see it live.” Just from what she says, you can tell that ‘O’ isn’t going to hop between genres like her ever-changing work alongside some of music’s biggest stars. It isn’t going to have the production value of their mind-boggling world tours, either. It’s a straight-up hard rock record, recorded in just 28 days by a three-person band.

And that’s exactly what it sounds like. It isn’t anything ground-breaking, like her sudden 2009 explosion into the mainstream or her incredible work towards making the guitar feel more accessible to young women. Nevertheless, it’s a solid record, despite a few fillers, that neither ruins Orianthi’s legacy nor cements it.

Her powerful voice fills the big-hitters like ‘Contagious’ – a little too on-the-nose for the current era, hence the decision to promote ‘Sinners Hymn to lead-single status instead – and ‘Rescue Me’. While we can feel Carrie Underwood’s impact on her voice, occasional blasts of grungy riffs remind us that her time working alongside Alice Cooper was probably her most career-defining experience to date.

These well-known names might have been a staple of her career, but in line with her promise to deliver a raw, real album, there is no time for guest appearances on ‘O’. The closest we come is an indirect contribution from Mötley Crüe drummer Nikki Sixx, who wrote the lyrics to ‘’Streams Of Consciousness’. “I was actually texting his wife,” she explains. “I said ‘Hey, I’m making this record with different collaborators and whatnot, and if Nikki’s down to write something, it’d be great.’ He wrote me back and said that he absolutely wanted to, and I was blown away.”

Orianthi ‘O’ is available now on all streaming platforms.

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