Album Review :
Orion Walsh "Tornado Lullabies"

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Artist: Orion Walsh

Album: Tornado Lullabies

Label: None

Review by: Brandon Jones

Myspace

Tracklist:

  1. Legend of Young Billy
  2. Throwing in the Towel
  3. The Last American Boy
  4. Starting Over on a Western Shore
  5. Melt With the Snow
  6. Transient Blues
  7. Tornado Lullaby
  8. When Will They Come For Us
  9. The War He Couldn’t Win
  10. Look Around

Well it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything closely resembling what you might consider a “review”. I approached this album from the fan standpoint, excited for the mere prospect of owning it and gathering up enough time to listen through all 10 tracks. What I wasn’t expecting was the profound impact it’d have on my heart. The album is filled to the brim with songs of longing, songs of regret, of loneliness and ultimately, hope. You may have gotten a taste of Orion on our first official sampler “Fighting From the Ground Up Vol. 1” that was posted up back in February of this year. Well take that one song and multiply it in intensity by 1000. The production is flawless, crisp, clear, and perfectly captures the heart and soul of this musician turned singer songwriter. The styles range on this very album from Acoustic folk numbers to straight up country rockers to Americana and everything in between. Sounding somewhat of a collision between Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Limbeck, and Rocky Votolato with a little Gasoline Heart thrown in for good measure. John Holcomb knows what I’m talking about. Heck, I am going to be the only reviewer that ever draws this comparison because I’m cool like that but this release invokes memories of the late 90s band DRYVE. Those people my age will remember this band and instantly see the similarity. These are songs for rainy nights and somber self reflecting afternoons. These songs tug on the heart yet bring about a joy that is indescribable. Just to be upfront, this isn’t some Christian worship record or scene band that we often cover here at Indie Vision. This is so much more and something entirely unique. Originality is a topic that is hard to toss around on just any artist that paints a canvas but on this particular artist, I can freely pass that word on about. To be honest, a lot of music coming from the scene has bored me to tears lately and especially the music coming from Christian artists. This is something of a fresh perspective and something that whispers hope to my ears. This isn’t cookie cutter, formulaic, generic and paint by the numbers whatever you want to call it “core”, this is folk music with heart. Music having any sort of “heart” is something hard to grasp for any aspiring musician but in Orion Walsh, there is so much heart that it’s simply unbelievable. As you can read, I am impressed beyond words with this release.

“Legend of Young Billy” starts the album off with it’s upbeat strumming of the acoustic guitar and straight up country flavor. “The War He Couldn’t Win” is a simple yet earnest protest song of sorts, a song that everyone can grasp a hold of. It’s a fitting reminder of the friends and loved ones some of us have out there in the middle east and a tribute to those that have fallen. “Melt With the Snow” is one of my personal favorites on the album, with it’s subtle and simple acoustic guitar strumming. The words speak volumes of age and the approaching years that are falling on each of us. It’s a sad goodbye to someone I suppose meant a great deal to this singer/songwriter. It’s a tug at the heartstrings sort of number. “Throwing in the Towel” is another fave with it’s country twang influence and strumming of the ole’ acoustic geetar and harmonica playin. I love it. There are so many great songs on this release that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few or try to best describe the contents of every lyric found within. I will say that there are a few words that are going to offend the old “Christian” crowd, you know, a couple of “Damns” and “Hell” etc. It’s nothing that really bothers me much because it isn’t done in an “attitude” sort of way, but more in an honest story telling manner. “The Last American Boy” tells the tale of American consumerism and the effects of war on the American youth. A call for the under privileged, the down and out.

Orion Walsh has come a long way since the time of Slow Coming Day but the years have been kind. This influential singer songwriter has had plenty of time to develop his sound and write the honest lyrical input he puts forth on “Tornado Lullabies”. It almost seems like a polar opposite of the 90’s influenced emo band he played in for several years at the start of this decade and it’s quite clear, he’s here to stay. This whole album was recorded, produced, and released without the help or backing of any major record company and for that I smile. A truly independent musician who doesn’t have to rely on the handouts of a donor to produce the music he wants to create, freely at will. If you’re looking for a clean break from all the crappy generic music out there, please take a minute out of your day and give Orion Walsh a listen, you won’t regret it. Easily one of the best releases of 2008 in my opinion. This will definitely make my year end “Best of” list. Orion has fine tuned the Americana/folk sound of his elders and made his own beautiful piece of work. So what would I change about this release? Well you know, a few back flips and guitar spins would do wonders, maybe some dueling guitar solos and thick breakdowns might do this release some good. I kid I kid. There isn’t anything I’d change about this album, my joy is pretty self explanatory.

It’s available on Itunes and from our online store if you’re inclined to buy it somewhere.

Orion Walsh on the web:

Myspace

Purevolume

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