ALBUM REVIEW: X Ambassadors // ORION





Artists You May Like:  Awolnation, Imagine Dragons, Thirty Seconds to Mars

It has been four years since X Ambassadors released their debut album, so some of us have been feeling a little unsteady just waiting for their sophomore effort to drop.  Luckily, we do not have to wait any longer.  We were finally presented with ORION on Friday, which expands on the music and the stories that we heard on X Ambassadors’ first album, VHS.  The band stated that this album is about what they have experienced together as a band these past four years, as well as what they have learned.  Their goal is to make this an “identity-defining record;” based on what we hear in these eleven tracks, I think that they have achieved this goal.

The album starts with “HEY CHILD,” which is a feel-good anthem.  The verses are a little more mellow in comparison to the choruses, where we really hear the uninhibited folksy vocals of Sam Harris.  Unapologetically belting out the lyrics, Sam reminds the listener to “keep shining bright” amidst all obstacles.  We cannot wait to hear what more he has to say on this album.

The next track on the album, “CONFIDENCE,” features the incomparable, K.Flay.  K.Flay and Sam portray a couple who are in a troubled relationship with one another.  If you were only listening to the light, tropical music that accompanies the lyrics, you would not suspect that this identifies as more of a dark song.  There are times in the song when we might think that this is one of those love songs in disguise because the lyrics could be interpreted as affectionate.  Maybe it’s a good thing that this person’s confidence dissipates when their lover steps into the room?  However, we are reminded that this is not the case, as the subject expresses feeling hurt and feeling like they could die.

A stand-out on the album is the fourth track, “BOOM.”  It wavers between rock and pop, showcasing the band’s versatility.  The track deals with having the power to walk away from toxic people without feeling regret.  After hearing “I got the same old shoes with a new attitude” and “I got a new tattoo, don’t know what to tell you” we envision this very cool guy, walking to the beat, and showing up whoever it is that is breaking his heart.

About halfway through the album, we are treated with the acoustic track, “HISTORY.”  Sam has one of those voices that suits an acoustic track.  He can emote strength and pain at the same time, which enables him to effectively sing raw, moving songs.  As is the case with many acoustic tracks, this track deals with a break-up.  Once the song ends, we cannot help but hear that chorus play over in our heads, further cementing the point of the track.

Another stand-out on the album is its shortest track, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY.”  It starts out delicately, as we hear an organ-like keyboard and some resounding chords.  Sam comes in, describing a situation in which he needs God’s help.  He explains that he doesn’t know how to pray and that he doesn’t know who he is praying to, but he is desperate enough to try.  The track cuts out after Sam is done praying and we are left with an audio clip of two people talking – supposedly Sam and his brother, Casey, who is mentioned in the prayer.

The last track, “HOLD YOU DOWN,” is about being someone’s rock.  While Sam does not directly state that this is about his brother, it is inferred that this track is about their relationship.  The music video is tear-jerking, as it includes old home video clips of the two of them when they were kids, to present-day footage of the two of them being in the band together.  There is a lot of warmth and heart that stays with us after Sam sings the final notes.  We are left feeling more comforted than we did before starting the album.

You can stream ORION on sites like Spotify and Apple Music.

Catch X Ambassadors on tour here.

Keep up with X Ambassadors:  Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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