Country music is the order of the day for Matt Owens and his debut solo album ‘Whiskey and Orchids’. Having previously been a member of indie band Noah and the Whale from their inception to their demise that saw success via four albums and many tours and festival appearances with the likes of Arcade Fire, Bahamas and Laura Marling, in addition to his ongoing musical pursuit in recent times with Little Mammoths, Matt Owens has made the decision to plough the solo route. The new album ‘Whiskey and Orchids’ consists of eleven tracks with a strong Americana/country flavour running throughout. With Nigel Stonier registered as producer and guest appearances from musicians Thea Gilmore, Rob Vincent, Michael Blair and Paul Beavis, there is clearly much talent behind ‘Whiskey and Orchids’. This becomes evident from lively opener ‘Lay Down Honey’, to more pensive moods held in both rhythm and narratives of examples ‘American Girls in London’, to the equally compelling duo of ‘Christmas Eve’ and ‘Match Day’ with both songs held together by the barebones of acoustic guitar and piano. There is heartache in the storytelling of ‘Whiskey and Orchids’ as is the way with country music where addiction plays its part in both love and liquor (‘Little Tornado’, ‘Too Far Gone’), but Matt Owens carries this off in his own style as well as having more in common with fellow contemporaries Danny & the Champions of the World and Folk Grinder rather than the gloss of numerous country artists attempting their take on this genre. ‘Whiskey and Orchids’ is a fine beginning for Matt Owens and one that bodes well considering the variety on offer here via its engaging stories and changes in tempos.