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Review: 'Assorted Orchids'
'Assorted Orchids'   

-  Label: 'Whale Watch Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '18th June 2021'

Our Rating:
Kicking off an album with a song called ‘Uninspired’ doesn’t exactly fill the listener with enthusiasm or confidence, but Assorted Orchids’ eponymous debut is anything but. Brimming with sparse, minimal folk-leaning tunes, there are hints of early Leonard Cohen here.

The aforementioned first track is softly picked, deft, eloquent, and there is a kitchen sink domesticism to the lyrical depictions, and this sets the tone for the album as a whole. There’s nothing overdone, overblown, or showy about this and while ‘troubadour’ is a word I’m uncomfortable, it’s very much appropriate as a descriptor of Assorted Orchids’ narrative style and overall approach to songwriting.

T.McWilliams – aka Assorted Orchids – has spent a long time – like some seventeen years refining his craft while living a nomadic life between Boston, Los Angeles and NYC, Scotland to Shanghai and points in between. There is simply no substitute for life experience when it comes to penning songs with real emotional depth and resonance, and with the songs all centred primarily around picked acoustic guitar, Assorted Orchids very much place the focus on the quality of the content and the purity of the performance over anything fancy, inviting comparisons to Donovan and Nick Drake.

However worldweary and emotionally worn the songs are, Assorted Orchids feels like a gentle breeze as the album effortlessly wanders through wistfulness, reflection, and various shades of lovelorn, and this comes from the simplicity of the arrangements, the immediacy and intimacy of songs played as you would hear them played in person – no studio trickery, no bloated production. There’s a deep, dark, soulful ache to the twanging, panging ‘The Mighty Kingdom’, and it again calls to mind Leonard Cohen’s ‘Songs of Love and Hate’

Perhaps there’s an element of nostalgia for a more innocent musical era here, but it’s so very welcome as a contrast to the blinding pace of modern life and the slick radio fodder that’s ubiquitous. Assorted Orchids is a magical moment of calm.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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