This fresh, upbeat country hits you with plenty of energy, some fine playing, a twist of pop – and another twist, too.

Label: Black Dog Records
Time: 10 tracks / 38 mins.

This second release by the young country band exudes a youthful spirit that has plenty of support from older heads and hands.

That’s because Orfila is a ‘band’ of two parts: the trio itself is a batch of siblings – sisters Abi and Louise Orfila share vocals, while brother Matt plays a batch of guitars and also adds vocals. The rest is down to a highly proficient bunch of session players. While the family clearly has some energy, spirit and decent harmonies, the excellent surrounding players add some gravitas. Not least is pedal steel legend B. J. Cole (are there yet more country albums with him on than there are without him??).

Several songs here do what you expect – get toes flexing and heads humming – and their manifesto opens the album (“I’ll just floor it, I ain’t ever slowin’ down”) but there is also something thin about them. While it would be hard to deny the Nashville spirit, their upbeat songs sometimes feel quite dispensable.

It is when they lower the pace and feel more serious that they get closer to the heart, making “Carry On” one of the standout tracks.  

As usually happens with sibling harmonies, they flow beautifully, but the harmonies help to disguise some lead vocals that occasionally miss the bull’s-eye (such as on the otherwise fine “Floor It”). Some songwriting could also do with a little patching up (there is poor scanning on “When You Look at Me” as well as on the bright and otherwise very enjoyable “Second Wind”).

“It would be you” is a typical track: fine harmonies, flimsier lead vocals, a definite hook, some wonderful mandolin from Tommy Yankton, and a twist of pop; but the song is basically about drinking too much and taking the consequences. And that may be where the other twist comes in – they are not from anywhere near Nashville, but from Kent in the UK.

I may be nit-picking. They are still maturing and will probably continue to improve, but they can already produce some very fine tracks, such as “Hit the Ground Running,” where their energy and the song's singability make a tremendous mash up of country and pop.

Derek Walker