Orianthi – O (Frontiers)

It’s seven years since Orianthi released her last solo album.

Heaven In This Hell preceded a guest spot with LA supergroup Hollywood Vampires.

Then there was the promising RSO project with former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.

As a partnership — on and off the stage — the pair never quite fulfilled their sizzling potential.

And in the summer of 2018 the couple’s personal relationship came to a painfully abrupt halt.

But did the break-up free up Orianthi to craft her career masterwork?

Did it spark a fresh focus and a fearless approach to songwriting?

And did it usher in a brave new era for one of the 21st century’s most exciting rock talents?

Not quite.

Is Orianthi’s O an A-Z of rock?

At times this record’s more a case of ‘O dear’ rather than ‘O my God!’.

The highlights are outstanding but there are far too few.

And rather than go with her gut, it seems Orianthi has gone with the flow.

Rescue Me is a stripped-down example of emotive, evocative, bluesy brilliance.

Lyrically powerful and sonically supercharged, it’s a stunning example of the Aussie axe hero at her blistering best.

And it’s a crying shame that it’s the exception, rather than the rule.

Contagious or confusing?

Crass opener Contagious is generic US hard rock at its formulaic worst.

Blow might feature a sumptuous solo but it’s Crüe-lite clunk is hugely disappointing.

Juxtaposed with the similarly uninspiring Sorry, two bang average tracks are the filler separating the killer.

Because Crawling Out Of The Dark is Orianthi back to her affecting best.

And that’s the quirk at the heart of O.

Renowned for her lightning riffage and red hot attitude, here Orianthi excels when the volume’s turned down and the introspection’s turned up…to 11.

Orianthi: Into the O zone

For some reason the mainstay of Alice Cooper’s touring band between 2011 and 2014 simply doesn’t sound as convincing when she’s rocking out and letting rip.

O is a record that asks more questions than it answers.

It’s a polarising album that somehow misses the target.

And yet when Orianthi allows her personality to shine through, there are moments of pure soft rock perfection.

Perhaps O should have been an EP.

Maybe Orianthi should have eased herself back as a solo artist.

Focused on quality, rather than quantity.

And come back with something far more convincing than O’s incomprehensible inconsistency.

Sambora, Cooper and Jackson are no bad judges

Streams Of Consciousness says it best of all: this is a record without direction and struggling to escape its many dead ends.

But when Orianthi does find her way — and the soulful pop of set closer Moonwalker is another magical example — she offers a timely reminder of a special talent.

Sambora, Cooper and the late Michael Jackson all recognised the magic within a musician who belongs on the world’s biggest stages.

It’s time Orianthi looked at the woman in the mirror and saw for herself what’s truly possible.