Orly is an indie/folk/acoustic duo from Somerville, Massachusetts. Made up of vocalist/guitarist Orly Forman and guitarist Yagel Sulchiner, the couple fell in love, travelled the East Coast of the United States sharing their music, and recently took home 1st prize at the U.S.A songwriting competition in the folk category for their song “Boy on a Hill”. Their full-length debut album is self-titled, and as a fan of good folk and acoustic music myself, I’m looking forward to a listen.
“My Oh My” is our opening track, and things look good. The sparse guitar is appropriate for the surprising and beautiful fragility of Orly Forman’s vocal delivery. The lyrics deal with grieving, leaving the past behind, and the ever-changing nature of life. Orly and Yagel show their keen sense of dynamics by adding a fretless bass in the second verse to raise the vibration, only to once again raise it to the sky with a string section, cymbals, and the desperate lines “You, only you, you mean everything, yes you do”, which pulls at the heartstrings like Beth Gibbon’s broken vocal style. Out of the abyss, a fast-paced Americana breakdown emerges and Orly Forman lets loose as the drums kick in. This is a stellar track.
“Boy on a Hill” is stunning from the opening note, and it sounds like a song that would have been passed down through generations, a classic folk song with a Celtic flavor. This is a song about freedom and possibility, and I have no doubt now that Orly’s win in the U.S.A songwriting competition was not only deserved, but by a wide margin. This has the same beauty that the Page & Plant material has; ethereal, mysterious and boundless.
“Options” is more playful and catchy, adding a touch of country over lazy guitars and a swinging rhythm. The horn section solo is brilliant; a piece of music that makes you want to walk through the street smiling and shaking hands with everyone you come across.
“Where Did It All Go” takes a break from the dreaming for a period of distrust and disillusionment. Orly Forman’s vocal harmonies on the chorus show serious versatility and beauty, and Yagel Sulchiner’s playing is fantastic. The song doesn’t quite hold the power and sense of wonder that the opening two tracks do, but it’s still quite good, and simply meant to express a different side of the coin.
Other standout tracks on Orly’s self-titled debut are the intensely beautiful “You Were My Sun”, where the mood is heavy and the emotion is raw. The fact that some of Orly’s music reminds me of the Cranberries is a good thing and it speaks to the strength of their songwriting. “Waiting” is a playful highlight particularly for the light-at-heart, or for those who need a fresh perspective, while “The Earth” is an appropriate end to the journey, with the refrain “Well all go back to Earth”. The pianos and guitars are stunning and the mood is peaceful and accepting.
Both Orly Forman and Yagel Sulchiner prove themselves as excellent musicians and songwriters on “Orly”, and go well beyond expectations. The production and choice of instruments and arrangements show both knowledge and great care. “Orly” is an excellent debut in which all of the tracks are at least very good, and some of them border on masterpiece territory. I would expect the name to spread fast in folk and acoustic circles.
By James – firstname.lastname@example.org[Rating: 4/5]