Geographical origin often plays an integral role in the influence of music and lyric development. The case of Van Plating’s new album, Orange Blossom Child, is no exception. Florida is a cultural melting pot of dialect, instruments, and storytelling that all lend influence to the music made by artists of the region. Storytelling among the indigenous Seminoles and early Spanish settlers laid the foundation of folk music traditions. Telling tales of life in the swampland and along coastlines, these stories evolved into songs set to music throughout the generations. The rich culture of Florida is a blend of African American, Caribbean, and Latin heritages.
Some of the most prolific Americana musicians and storytellers from Florida include an intricate finger-picking style guitarist, Gamble Rogers; Americana rock icon, Tom Petty; and alt-country legend, Gram Parsons. As with Van Plating, they all built a sonic patchwork of the influences that make Florida the place it is. It’s rich with blues, rock ‘n roll, folk storytelling, and country music. Plating tied the sounds of music in her home state to the lyrics that tell the story of her life and created Orange Blossom Child. Van Plating wrote, engineered, and produced the album herself. The multi-instrumentalist invited along 33 fellow creatives to impart their talents onto her album. When I spoke with Van, I asked how she managed to get so many artists onboard. She revealed that she simply asked and to her great surprise, they all said yes.
When Plating began writing songs again after a several-year hiatus, she hadn’t really thought it would be roots music. However, when she started playing live again after the pandemic shutdowns, many people even in her home area thought she was from another region. They assumed that because she “sounded so country” that she must be from Texas or Tennessee. This was a compliment to her authenticity. Van Plating grew up on country music. So, it was no wonder that when writing about life in the Sunshine State, that she would gravitate toward the genre known for documenting the American way of life. In a genre full of subtypes, Lakeland, Florida’s Plating has delivered her own brand of country: Orange Blossom Country. The beautiful photography for the album and its singles really prepares the listener for what they are about to hear. The jewel tones are so indicative of the Florida patina. The photo shoot wardrobe choices are also suggestive of the 90s country influences that Van Plating grew up with.