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orange-is-the-new-black-soundtrackReleased: May 2014

To coincide with the DVD release of the first season of Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, the show is also releasing the soundtrack to the prison set comedy-drama that sees The Velvet Underground juxtaposed with Betty Davis and Nacy Cassidy. An eclectic mix of soul, rock and, well, Milkshake by Kelis, this is a compilation that will be welcomed by fans of the show, if only for the rousing original theme tune by Regina Spektor.

So, before you go hammering the skip button in a rush to Milkshake, it’s worth hanging around at the album’s opening with theme song You’ve Got Time proving to be an adrenaline fuelled race through guitar haze and Spektor’s eccentric vocals. The guitars are the most present but in the vein of Arcade Fire its drive and madness is firmly rooted in the piano part that pounds on throughout the main body of the song and truly shines in its middle section. This track very much sets up a theme for the record, one that is evidently present throughout the series: strong females. From the belting soul of Betty Davis with her 1973 stomper Walkin’ Up the Road to the seductively dark tones of Little Foot Long Foot’s Joan Smith who channels a female Jack White both vocally and instrumentally, women are very much in charge here.

That’s not to say that females are the only represented gender on the compilation, girl power aside there are plenty of strong efforts from men, including the gorgeously dreamy Sunday Morning, opening track to legendary indie album The Velvet Underground & Nico and Benny Latimore’s soulful ballad Move and Groove Together. This is an audacious collection of songs for a show that emanates attitude, only opening up to more tender tones in its final third, the early Kings of Leon sounds of The Duchess and the Duke following on from Lou Reed’s soft tones seamlessly.

With a hint of something for everyone this soundtrack to Orange is the New Black will probably only interest fans of the show, but its varied mix of pop, rock, soul and blues makes it a nicely rounded compilation. With a real treat in Regina Spektor’s spirited theme song, one of her best tracks to date, and plenty of further exploration into the empowered female singer, this fits nicely with the premise of the show and showcases plenty of strong efforts from both the past and present. And if that’s not enough, there’s always that irresistible intro of “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…” on track six. What more could you want?

★★★★

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