This is a transitional Al Stewart album. After stretching the boundaries of song length and language with Love Chronicles, he was in a something of a holding pattern on Orange, without any obviously profound inspiration or moments of daring. "Songs Out of Clay," however, does reveal the first signs of the mix of acoustic and electric guitar sounds that he would perfect on his next album, Past, Present and Future, two years later, while "The Fourth of May," a six-minute personal story-song, gets something of the beat and the sound that Stewart would refine in achieving his subsequent success -- he just needed subject matter other than busted relationships. Orange also introduced Tim Renwick, whose lead guitar would become central to the sound on Stewart's subsequent albums. His singing, however, is still of a rather mournful and even monotonous nature, except on those two songs; he hadn't yet found sufficient variety in his tone and delivery, and even the presence of Rick Wakeman's elegant, classically based, arpeggio-laden piano accompaniments couldn't rescue most of these songs. There's also a pretty cool cover of Bob Dylan's "I Don't Believe You," cut as a warm-up for the rest of the album.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder