Tag Archives: Steven Llewellyn

Americana: album review – Orphan Colours ‘All On Red’

Back in the summer of 2010 I was one of many thousands at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy festival being wowed by the impressive talents and uplifting melodies of the then newly-formed alt-country outfit, ahab. Sadly, the pressures of holding it all together proved too much and the band split. Two of their number, Steve Llewellyn and Dave Burn, were not done yet, however. Together with ex Noah & The Whale guitarist Fred Abbott, Danny & The Champions of The World drummer Steve Brookes and bass player Graham Knight, they formed a new band Orphan Colours.

As Llewellyn explains, “At the end of 2013 both ahab and Noah & The Whale had been chewed up and spat out by the music business. We found ourselves out of a job despite both band’s upward trajectories. The toll of touring and hard graft was too much. Speaking for myself, I had a lot more to give and I wasn’t anywhere near done yet. I had a backlog of songs that weren’t fit for ahab and I wanted to get them out into the world. So despite having failed with ahab and the financial pressures I was under, I put every penny I had into this project.”

After a really promising EP ‘High Hopes’ in 2016 the band set to work on the live circuit but have now finally released their debut album. Compared to the up-tempo numbers of love and heartbreak from the ahab days, All On Red mines more of a classic, laid-back, country-rock vibe but the talent for strong melody, heart-warming vocals and infectious choruses is as evident as ever. The deliciously-sounding ‘Start Of Something’ which opens the albums gives you everything you would want from a great country rock song and from then on the album doesn’t falter.

“I had written my fair share of sensitive songs for ahab – about love and loss and all that, and there’s a few on here but I really wanted to bring a bit of rock n roll into the UK Americana scene and I feel like we’ve achieved a good balance on this record,” contends Llewellyn.

It was particularly nice to catch the band performing a few songs from the album as part of an in-store appearance at Bexhill’s Music’s Not Dead record store last Saturday (well three-fifths of them anyway – drummer, Steve Brookes, eschewing the chance to set up his kit on the tiny shop window stage and guitarist, Dave Burn, managing to damage his ankle falling of stage the night before). Gamely, the depleted gang honour the gig anyway and deliver an impressive, heartfelt performance. While only a small number of those crammed into the shop owned up to witnessing either Orphan Colours or ahab live before, it was encouraging to see that they had clearly won over a number of new fans.

All On Red is a very impressive debut album. Let’s hope the music world conspires to keep Orphan Colours around for a few years longer than it did their predecessors.

Released: 26th January 2018

https://www.orphancolours.com/

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Related reviews:
ahab at Cropredy 2015
Orphan Colours in London 2016
Dave Burn – solo album review

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Orphan Colours at The Borderline 4/3/16

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.

http://orphancolours.com/

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