Ahab were a brilliant London-based alt-country band who formed in 2009, shone brightly for a few years then promptly went their separate ways. Now two of their number, Steven Llewellyn and Dave Burn, are back with a new band, Orphan Colours, a new tour and a brand new EP, High Hopes. That sunny, infectious slice of Americana that Ahab were able to pull off so beautifully is all present and correct here once more. They are joined by Danny & The Champions of The World drummer, Steve Brookes, and Noah & The Whale guitarist, Fred Abbott, along with bass player Graham Knight. And as the little tongue-in-cheek blurb on their Soundcloud page spells out they are happy to be known as “your friendly neighbourhood Americana supergroup.”
Great tunes, sweet countrified lead vocals from Llewellyn, delicious harmonies, beautifully-played acoustic guitars and nice laid-back electric lead, this lot know how to capture the Americana vibe perfectly. One of the stand-out tunes is High Hopes, the title track of the new EP. From the unmistakeable drum intro for the first few seconds I think they’re about to do a cover of the Stone Roses’ I Am The Resurrection but it soon evolves into a catchy uplifting piece of poppy, folky, country rock, the sort of thing crowds always love singing along to under a beating summer sun in the festival season. Won’t Let You Down is another great song from the new EP, demonstrating Llewellyn’s gift as a songwriter for catchy, memorable yet somehow instantly familiar tunes.
Llewellyn shows no inclination to turn his back on his Ahab days and why would he? Indeed he celebrates the fact that some of his former band-mates are in the audience tonight to wish him well. And we get a couple of favourites from the Ahab days in the set-list tonight, too, like Lucy from the Wits End album, and Uptight from the Beautiful Hell album. Another unexpected highlight of the set was a stunning cover of Guns N Roses’ Paradise City, given a makeover as a beautifully laid-back alt-country ditty.
High Hopes is the name of Orphan Colours debut EP and this is a band I genuinely have high hopes for. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Llewellyn and co are wowing big audiences on the festival circuit.