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Beth Orton


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Folk/rock, alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Sugaring Season (2012)

See also:

Beth Orton's site

Wikipedia's page for Beth Orton

Beth Orton's Tumblr page

Beth Orton's MySpace page

Comparisons:

Beth Orton is the '90s version of Carole King. (John.Drummond)

Sandy Denny is thrown around most by rock critics and I buy that on some level. Orton herself has said she is influenced by Carole King and Carly Simon. I see the latter's influence on Central Reservation. I think Chan Marshall of Cat Power sounds a lot like her, only a bit rougher (at least on the album Moon Pix). (nnadel@hotmail.com)

Ben Watt has produced a few of her songs. I would recommend her to Everything But The Girl fans, although they are quite different. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Covers/own material:

Own and co-written, occasional cover

General comments:

Alternative folk/pop? Sometimes with a bluesy or electronic feel? Like any good ecto artist, Beth Orton is wonderfully difficult to describe. She has a deep, husky voice, and she's equally good at using it on slow songs, upbeat poppy songs, and her incredible combination of folk and whatever-else-is-in-there that I love. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The folk-hop combination is pretty unusual, as is her voice. I believe she could be of interest to many here. She's English and her sound is an interesting mixture of folk and more dance-oriented sound. Imagine acoustic guitar over techno samples and beats—and there you are! There are some dub-like sounds as well as string arrangements, and there is her quite lovely voice.... It works, well, it works most of the time. Depending on where you're coming from you might want her to move more towards the club sound, or, like me, more towards straightforward folk/pop. For now she sits on the fence and perhaps this is what makes her interesting. (afries@zip.com.au)

it was actually an early song she did with the Chemical Brothers that seemed to perk the interest of record companies, and that landed her the contract with Heavenly Recordings. she subsequently released the critically acclaimed Trailer Park. though she wasn't the first person to mix "electronica" with strong songwriting—the press dubbed it "folk-hop"—she was the first to appear after the term "electronica" had hit the stage as the latest and greatest thing. why the press didn't jump on this trend with people like Lori Carson and the remixed dance versions of Everything But The Girl is beyond me. but Beth really did deserve some of the praise. it just happened that it was good timing as well.
     a couple of singles/eps later, and she released Best Bit EP, which far surpassed Trailer Park for the strength of songwriting. Best Bit was just a precursor to Central Reservation. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

While I love most of Beth Orton's material, some of it does absolutely nothing for me. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

she doesn't seem to me a voice of the studio only, an 18-take wonder, she seems to me to have a voice of wow! and i think in person she will too. hopefully this is not only my thinking wishful talking. (winona@mildh.pair.com)

Comments about live performance:

I saw Beth Orton perform recently and she was really great. Her voice is really cool, she has this British thing going but also a sort of Irish lilt, and that show was just her solo and I thought she sounded really good. (rkb200@is5.nyu.edu)

Beth was fantastic...she had another guitarist accompanying her and, although there were some sound problems through the first 3 songs, I was extremely happy with the show...very sparse and simple, yet beautiful.... I kept thinking of Young Marble Giants for some reason. (11/98)
     Beth Orton was beth orton. Full band, which is different from when I saw her last november (it was just her and her guitarist then), so the arrangements were more full. She admitted to being hungover from the night before's performance at Pearl Street in Northampton. The sound people seemed to be fairly incompetent, not being able to get a good level (at least in my opinion) and balance in the main speakers. She only performed three songs from Central Reservation; two from Best Bit and a handful from Trailer Park filled out the rest of the set. I love that she had a bassist who mostly played on the upright. There didn't seem to be that much hesitation and shyness at all from the beginning; her voice was strong (well, as strong as her voice can be) and she had her sublimely goofy banter and body language at the ready. (06/99, paul2k@aol.com)

Finally i saw Beth Orton yesterday and she was FANTASTIC. her stage presence is phenomenal, real, and intense. i was blown away. she was amazing, performed a lot of new material. just her and another guitarist playing, the stripped-down version of the songs, at times lacked the verve of the fleshed-out band version, but at other times sparkled with clarity. especially the acoustic version of "Galaxy of Emptiness". i always sort of ignored that songs on the album, but hearing her perform it with just her own guitar and no electronica ricki-ticki noises in the background was amazing. also her performance of "Sugar Boy" was awe-inspiring. the entire audience was enraptured with her deliverance, and when she sang the last verse "i'm never going lay down and die for you" the entire audience burst out in applause and catcalls. it was just amazing the emotion she was able to convey in her performance.
     I will say though, that i am now convinced more than ever that she and Lori Carson are cut from the same cloth. the live performance really brought that home for me. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Came back in for Beth Orton's set and was soooo glad that we did. Beth sat on a chair right up front of the stage, playing an acoustic guitar, accompanied by another guy with an acoustic. Played some great songs, some old, some new. The second of the new songs ("Blood Red River") was quite stunning. The main difference to me between Beth and Lisa Loeb, who played on the same bill, was that although they played quite a similar set, Beth's voice had so much more character, more colour. (BridgesM@logica.com)

Recommended first album:

Central Reservation

Recordings:


Trailer Park

Release info:

1997—Dedicated Records, 580 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A./Heavenly Recordings, 72 Wardour Street, London V1V 3HP, U.K.—61702-44007-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, guitar

Guest artists:

Ted Barnes—guitars, mandolin, bouzouki
Ali Friend—double bass
Will Blanchard—drums
Beki Doe—violin
Oliver Kraus—cello
Lee Spencer—keyboards
Sean Read—hammond organ, piano
Tasha Lee McCluney—backing vocals
David Boulter—harmonium
Sean Kilbride—dulcimer
Lucy Wilkins—violin
Howard Gott—violin
Nia Bevan—violin
Rob Spriggs—viola
Becca Ware—viola
Sara Wilson—cello
Keith Tenniswood—guitar, keyboards
Andrew Hackett—electric guitar

Produced by:

Victor Van Vugt

Comments:

Great debut, distinctive, melancholy and beautiful. Great for late at night or Sunday afternoon. Some standouts: "She Cries Your Name", "Someone's Daughter". "Don't Need a Reason" is probably my favorite, simply gorgeous. The beats are sometimes repetitive on "Touch Me With Your Love" and "Galaxy of Emptiness". Grade: A. (nnadel@hotmail.com)

I love the music. Cannot stop playing the first song over and over. (111527@OVMAIL.kodak.com)

Her voice is wonderful—rich, deep, husky and warm. And the first song, "She Cries Your Name," is haunting and evocative. (In the intro of this song, you hear these swooning violins—or violin-like effects on the guitar, not sure which—followed by simple strumming that reminded me of the intro in "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbi Gentry. Immediately I started thinking Louisiana Delta, but then this deep and heavily British-accented voice came in. So much for the Delta! :-))
     But by and large I found the album disappointing. With the exception of the first song, this album is pretty lackluster. Her singing is indeed great, but most of the songs are limp and not engaging at all. Just my opinion.... (jwermont@sonic.net)

Brilliant. Starts out sounding kind of acoustic-folky, then is suddenly infused with smoky post-techno funk á la Tricky, then just as suddenly sounds like the Kirsty MacColl album we've all been waiting for. Well worth retail. (lissener@wwa.com)

Yeah, I thought it was disappointing the first few times I listened to it, but it just kinda grew on me, to the point where I now just LOVE this thing.... Last week, I was sitting on the bored-spouse-bench in a boutique on Nantucket when "Live As You Dream" came on the store sound system—boing! Immediate north/south alignment of my ecto-synapses and a big happy smile. Very minimalist stuff, yes, but something beyond her marvelous vocals is working here. The more I listen to this seemingly spare work, the more I'm amazed at its depth and its beauty. My vote for Debut Album Of The Year. (rkonrad@gwi.net)

An excellent album. Kind of Linda Thompson meets Everything But The Girl. Beautiful voice. Great songs. (jjhanson@att.net)

How totally cool. It's folk. No, it's ambient. No, it's...er...what exactly is it? Dunno, but it's an awful lot of fun. (burka@jeffrey.net)

It took me a long time to get into this album, but when I finally gave it the time it deserved I realized just why so many people were raving about it so loudly. Rich, creamy, and gorgeous. (meth@smoe.org)

Really, really uneven. A couple of the songs are way catchy and others I can't bear to listen to and have to hit the skip button. Still the good stuff is so compelling I'll put it in my player, but not often. (Neile)

This is another one that took a while to grow on me. The folksy strummings with occasional electronic flourishes didn't really grab me at first. But once I let the songs just flow over me, I discovered the album's quiet and simple beauty. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

Terrific electro-folk from two-time Chemical Brothers chanteuse. I fell in love with this album right away, even starting a mailing list for her! (beckwith@ime.net)

This one took a month to grow on me, too, but boy, after all is sung and done, this is one of my favorite discs currently and no doubt will remain so. So many good songs on this album. I just *knew* that she had to have been influenced by the great Nick Drake, and sure enough, later on I learned that this is so. It's interesting how often I'm playing this CD. Highly ectoly-recommended by this poor boy. (alundra@netos.com)

Overall, a GREAT album, and one of the strongest debut albums I've heard. Of the 11 songs here, there are only 3 I don't like. The other songs are not merely good, but really stand out. They get stuck in my head, and I keep coming back to this album without ever being disappointed. If the folk/electronic combination scares you, try it anyway. It's only pronounced on a few songs, and on the others it's a subtle distinctive touch that adds to the uniqueness of her folk/pop music. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Since Beth Orton's new CD is getting SUCH great press, I decided to finally unwrap and listen to Trailer Park which I bought last summer. Anyway, I thought the first song was GREAT. Then as the CD progressed, I found myself becoming more and more detached from the music until I was almost really glad to turn it off. However, it could just very well be that nothing would have "grabbed me" this morning. Since so many Ectophiles seem to like her I will certainly give her another listen. (loefflep@mis.finchcms.edu)

When Trailer Park came out, it got a lot of discussion around here. While there often isn't a total agreement on things around here, it seems like the bulk of the sentiments were very split on this album. Which kind of makes sense, since it's a strange mix of quite folky and oddly electronic. Some of the songs seem very poignant (to me), while others pretty uninteresting. (neal)

For a first record it's a good effort showing a lot of promise. I also get a bit bored with the whole record, but there are parts that I really, really enjoy. These are different parts on different days which is a bit unusual for me. Normally I either like a song or not; with her I'm never sure what will grab me this time. So yes, give her a chance.... (afries@zip.com.au)

Finally, I don't know what's wrong with me, but a year and a half later I've discovered Trailer Park. It's freakin' gorgeous. I can't get it out of my player. (bravegirl@earthlink.net)

stand-out tracks being "She Cries Your Name" (produced by William Orbit), "Sugar Boy" and "Touch Me With Your Love". (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I'm trying my hardest to really get into some of the less-incredible songs on Trailer Park, honestly I am...but sometimes, I just can't sit through "Galaxy of Emptiness" without getting fidgety.... I just think that Central Reservation is a *far* superior album. The Beth is dead. Long live The Beth. ;D (John.Drummond)


she cries your name (single)

Release info:

1997

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

U.K.

Comments:

the 2 non-album tracks are really good, nothing, and something about it's not the traffic lights or streetlights or something. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Best Bit EP

Release info:

1998—Dedicated Records, 580 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A.)/Heavenly Recordings, 72 Wardour Street, London V1V 3HP, U.K.—61702-44020-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Ted Barnes—electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Henry Olsen—bass
Will Blanchard—drums, tambourine
Sean Read—piano, Wurlitzer, harmonium
Sarah Wilson—cello, string arrangement
Howard Gott—violin, string arrangement
Dave Friedman—vibes
Martin Duffy—piano, Hammond
Frey Smith—bass
Terry Callier—vocals, guitar
Boscoe D'Olivera—percussion
Lascelles Gordon—percussion

Produced by:

Youth, Henry Olsen, Dr Robert

Comments:

Good collaboration with Terry Callier. "Dolphins" is the standout here. Some other nice songs as well. Very jazzy. Grade: A-. (nnadel@hotmail.com)

Don't shoot me, but I didn't like it nearly as much as Trailer Park. I think that the male voice on "Best Bit" just takes away from Beth's performance. Of course, I've only listened to it once...maybe it will be one of those things that has to grow on me. (Riphug@aol.com)

My initial impression is that it's excellent. I like the rendition of "Dolphins" that she did with Terry Callier. Speaking of "Dolphins", the first time I heard it was on one of Eddi Reader's CDs (I think with one of her bands, but I'm not sure). I was surprised to see that it was indeed the same "Dolphins". (jeffw@smoe.org)

I really love this EP, and while I think these songs are strong enough to be on an album, I'm glad that they're here together, showcased. "Dolphins" is the best one, and I hope Beth and Terry Callier continue to collaborate as "Pass In Time" is a stand-out on Central Reservation. The other songs are really good too, and I think it's more seamless and more solidly folky than Trailer Park. (JoAnn Whetsell)

While my reactions to Trailer Park may vary, I consistently enjoy the Best Bit EP. I hope her next record will follow in that direction! (afries@zip.com.au)

Better than Trailer Park methinks, i can't wait for the new album. there were no real stand-out tracks for me as i felt every song was amazing. but the collaboration with Terry Callier was fantastic. The liner notes mention how Beth and Terry were to collaborate, and she wasn't sure how their voices were meld with each other. Terry just said, "well, you're going to try and sound like me, and i'm gonna try and sound like you". it worked beautifully. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

The Best Bit EP is a killer, with added vocal confidence. (beckwith@ime.net)


Central Reservation

Release info:

1999—Arista Records (U.K.)—07822-19038-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, guitars, harmonium

Guest artists:

Ted Barnes—guitars, bouzouki, electric slide, mandolin
Will Blanchard—drums
Sean Read—keyboards, piano
Henry Olsen—bass
Lascelles Gordon—percussion, beer can
Ben Harper—electric guitar
Jerry Meyhan—bass
Dr. John—piano
Ali Friend—bass
Dr. Robert—guitar
Terry Callier—backing vocals
David Roback (Mazzy Star)—acoustic guitar
Dave Friedman—vibes
Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl)—guitar, keyboards, beats, abstract sounds & programming
Beki Doe—violin, string arrangement
Howard Gott—violin
Ruth Gottlieb—violin
Calinda De La Mare—violin
Lucy Wilkins—violin
Dmitri Van Zwanenburg—violin
Robert Spriggs—violas
Becca Ware—violas
Oliver Kraus—cello, string arrangement
Sarah Willson—cello
Andrew Waterworth—double bass

Produced by:

Victor Van Vugt, Dr. Robert, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Beth Orton, Ben Watt, David Roback

Comments:

Fantastic! Central Reservation is a very mature follow-up to Trailer Park. The album on a whole is more cohesive, and the sound is richer and denser. Most of the songs seem somehow a bit darker or more serious to me, though not at all in a depressing way. Some songs have a bluesy feel to them, and it's more folk-rooted. The first listen I was kind of disappointed after Trailer Park, but by the second listen I was really into it, and now I love it! I love both albums, for different reasons, but both for Beth's wonderful voice. I can see someone liking one album without the other though. My favorites are "Stolen Car," "Pass In Time," and "Feel To Believe" which is just beautiful with just Beth and her guitar. Ms. Orton's masterful 2nd album. Good taste. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Beth Orton's Central Reservation is Beth going just where I wanted her to go (more folk, less hop). (afries@zip.com.au)

"Pass in Time" alone is worth the entire cost of the Central Reservation disc. Yeah, the rest is amazing too, but that song...holy mother. (John.Drummond)

I like that she eased up on the programming for this one. I like trip-hop music, don't get me wrong, but her real strength is her songwriting, and she was kind of getting to be known as "that electro-folkie chick". Some great songs here: "Stolen Car", "Pass In Time", "Blood Red River". The guitar on "Blood Red River" is gorgeous. Some tracks were produced by Mazzy Star's David Roback. The album is more stripped-down than Trailer Park, and the songs don't go on too long like a few on the last album. Grade: A. (nnadel@hotmail.com)

I wanted to mention how fixated I am on Beth Orton's new album. The opening track, "Stolen Car" is one of those hit-repeat-and-leave-it-there songs that comes along only a couple times a year. In fact, I love that song so much I can't really tell you a whole lot about the rest of the album, save that I'm really loving it. I'm going to go back to Trailer Park now—after the initial surge on that I haven't been motivated to listen to it for a really long time. This evening on WPKN I heard several Orton songs in a row from both albums, and it all worked really well together. I can already tell this one's a definite winner. Trailer Park took a while to jump out at me; this one, however, stands up and says "Hi, I'm great" from the first strains of the opening track. The word that best describes this album right now is "rich", as in rich and creamy. Delicious.
     Later: One of my top ten of the year. I almost forgot about this one since it came out early in the year—but it certainly deserves its spot on the list. I found myself motivated to listen to this a lot more than her debut. "Stolen Car" alone is enough to put it on the list—what an incredible song that is. (meth@smoe.org)

I also like it a lot. "Stolen Car" is an amazing track, and a great way to start off the album, but after three listens I'm also really into "Stars All Seem To Weep" and "Blood Red River." I wasn't blown away by a first listen to Trailer Park, so I guess I wasn't motivated enough to go out and buy the CD. Now I think I'm motivated. :) (mcurry@io.com)

so far has been an amazing album, one that not only immediately grabs you, but that lasts as well. while her first one was good, this one seems great. nearly every track is amazing, and the focus is away from the electronica influence, and more on the songwriting folk aspects, though i hesitate to use the phrase folk. Ben Watt from (Everything But The Girl) comes on board to remix and produce a couple of songs, as well as a return from Terry Callier and others (Ben Harper and Dr. John). emotionally the album is incredible, with the haunting and beautiful songs like "Pass in Time", featuring Terry Callier, a song written about the passing away of her mother, "Sweetest Decline" and "Central Reservation" anchoring the CD in the emotional as opposed to the electronical.
     little factoid: beth was going to call the album Sweetest Decline but then decided that sounded too pretentious. gotta love her.
     anyway, i can't recommend this CD enough to people. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Actually, I'm getting really damn obsessed with "Feel to Believe", as well...it's got a much different quality to it than "Pass In Time", of course, since it's just words+guitar, so to speak, but it's lyrically amazing, and musically uplifting. (John.Drummond)

10 things i love about Central Reservation, where even ever to begin?!?! Beth & William Orbit is the other side of sing-sing's sweetest decline-spot and when i read here about where she went on Central Reservation i worried (and i worry, you know i do, i should be a grandmother for all the worry i have!) because aside from ummm certain stereotypes i am not a big lover of the folkier of folk. when i hear a girl with guitar (this is sad but oh so true) i wonder "hey where's the boy with the drums?" or maybe in this case the boy with the juno 106 and jupiter 8. but i am happy x 6 with Central Reservation and if this is not a great album i am not sure what might be one. (winona@mildh.pair.com)

Well, I'm not as enamoured of this as other people on ecto seem to be. I like it, but as I'm not a big contemporary folk fan, the songs that fall into that sound don't register much on my radar. I do like "Stolen Car" a lot and like the album okay, but I'm just not in love with this. Like Trailer Park it's really up and down for me. (Neile)

okay, look it's *perfectly* normal to listen to "stolen car" 9 times in a row. and i wasn't actually dizzy afterwards. much. i just wish the critics get over the chemical bros. thing. (bossert@suddensound.com)

I really liked this at first but it kind of slipped out of my mind as the year went on. (afries@zip.com.au)


"Stolen Car" singles

Release info:

1999

Availability:

Europe

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Beth Orton fans

Comments:

This has two b-sides on it, "I Love How You Love Me" and "Precious Maybe". The former is a cover of a Mann and Kolber song (whoever they are). It has a kind of '50s show-tune feel to it, so perhaps it's from that era...I don't know...anyhow, it's a nice, slower song...the real gem, though, is the latter song, "Precious Maybe", which Beth wrote *and* produced...it has a kind of Spanish feel to it in the guitar work...not flamenco, not at all, but those open chords, it made me think of Spanish music. (John.Drummond)

Regarding the singles, they are all remixes. too bad there aren't any live or bsides. the most successful one is certainly the WILLIAM ORBIT remix. skip disc two with the DEEP DISH remixes. not really worth the $10 i shelled out. (iflin@speakeasy.net)


Daybreaker

Release info:

2002—Heavenly Records/Astralwerks—ASC39918

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm king

Guest artists:

Adam Peters—cello, keyboards, string arrangements, string conductor
Ali Friend—bass guitar
Andy Nice—cello
Andy Waterworth—double bass
Becca Ware—viola
Beki Doe—string arrangements, violin
Ben Watt—piano
Brian Wright—violin
Catherine Browning—violin
Dave Williams—violin
Emmylou Harris—vocals
Howard Gott—violin
Jacqueline Norrie—violin
Jim Keltner—drums
Johnny Marr—guitar
Jon Birdsong—brass arrangement, trumpet
Keith Tenniswood—programming
Lascelles Gordon—percussion
Lucy Shaw—double bass
Matt Johnson—drums
Oliver Kraus—cello, string arrangements
Richard George—violin
Rob Spriggs—viola
Ruth Gottlieb—violin
Ryan Adams—bass, foot stomping, guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, piano, slide guitar, vocals
Scott Minor—percussion, programming
Sean Read—keyboards
Sebastian Steinberg—bass guitar
Smokey Hormel—electric guitar
Ted Barnes—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin
The Chemical Brothers
Tim Myall—violin
Victor Van Vugt—programming
Vincent Chancey—French horn
Will Blanchard—drums

Produced by:

Beth Orton, Ben Watt, Victor Van Vugt, William Orbit

Comments:

The new Beth Orton album, Daybreaker, is wonderful. Only 1 listen so far, but it seems to me the most seamless blend yet of her folk and electronic sides. I also think it's uniformly more mellow than her previous albums. It doesn't have the catchiness of some of the songs on Trailer Park like "Live As You Dream" and "Sugar Boy" or the instant replay value of "Stolen Car," which may be why some critics are underwhelmed by the album. But it also lacks the unevenness of the previous discs. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I put this on and start to get into it, then about halfway through I lose interest and put on something else. (cdavis@tir.com)


The Other Side of Daybreak

Release info:

2003—Heavenly Recordings—ASC92266/7243-592266-0-6

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, rhythm king

Guest artists:

Aaron Embry—wurlitzer, rhodes bass, organ (1)
Jude Cole—additional guitars, keyboards (1)
Will Blanchard—drums (2, 4, 5, 9, 10)
Sebastian Steinberg—bass guitar (2)
Ted Barnes—acoustic (2, 3, 4, 5, 9) and electric guitar (2), mandolin (4, 9)
Lascelles Gordon—percussion (2, 5)
Sean Read—keyboards (2)
Adam Peters—keyboards (2, 4, 9, 10), string arranging and conducting (2, 4, 9), cello (4, 9)
Victor Van Vugt—additional programming (2)
Scott Minor—percussion (2), programming (4, 9) The Wrecking Crew Orchestra—strings (2, 5)
Steve Lewison—double bass (3)
Ali Friend—bass guitar (4, 5, 9, 10)
Smokey Hormel—electric guitar (5)
Keith Tenniswood—programming (5, 10)
Beki Doe, Oliver Kraus—string arrangements (5)
Jim Keltner—drums (6)
Ryan Adams—bass guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar (6)
Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl)—piano (6)
Kieran Hebden—all sounds (7)
Roots Manuva—additional vocals (9)

Produced by:

Beth Orton, Jude Cole, Victor Van Vugt, William Orbit, International Peoples Gang, The Chemical Brothers, Four Tet, Kieran Hebden, Roots Manuva, Two Lone Swordsmen

Comments:

Remix albums don't generally hold a lot of interest for me, but this one had enough goodies (new songs, live versions) for me to get it, and it's well worth it. A great companion piece to Daybreaker, (which has continued to grow on me throughout the year to now be my favorite of Beth's albums) and great on its own. The first track, a cover of "Ooh Child," is worth the price of the disc alone. Whereas most versions I've heard sound cheerful and hopeful, looking for the better day, Beth's acoustic version is more spare and muted, more about the current pain and a wary hopefulness. The live acoustic version of "Concrete Sky" is also stripped and beautiful. "Ali's Waltz" is a great new song, a companion to Daybreaker's "Ted's Waltz." And the remixes are very good, some surprising like the very upbeat version of "Carmella" which I didn't like at all at first but has grown on me a lot. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Pass In Time: The Definitive Collection

Release info:

2003—BMG—82876561632

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, rhythm king
Disc 1

Guest artists:

Beki Doe—string arrangements (1, 10); violin (1, 5, 8, 10, 14)
Oliver Kraus—string arrangements (1, 10); cello (1, 5, 8, 10, 14)
Ted Barnes—guitars (1, 4, 6, 9); bouzouki (3, 10); mandolin (6); acoustic guitar (7, 14); electric guitar (7, 13, 14)
Ali Friend—double bass (1, 3, 4, 5); bass guitar (13)
Will Blanchard—drums (1, 4, 7-11, 14); tambourine (7)
Lee Spencer—keyboards (1)
David Boulter—harmonium (3, 6); organ (4)
Tasha Lee McCluney—background vocal (4)
Lucy Wilkins—violin (5, 8, 10)
Nia Bevan—violin (5)
Rob Spriggs—viola (5, 8, 10, 14)
Becca Ware—viola (5, 8, 10)
Howard Gott—violin (5, 7, 8, 10, 14); string arrangements (7, 8)
Sarah Willson—cello (5, 7, 8, 10, 14); string arrangements (7, 8)
Henry Olsen—electric bass guitar (7); bass (8, 9)
Sean Read—piano (7-9); keyboards (8, 9, 14)
Ruth Gottlieb, Calina De La Mare—violin (8, 10, 14)
Dmitri Van Zwanenburg—violin (8, 10)
Ben Harper—guitar (9)
Lascelles Gordon—percussion (9, 10, 13, 14)
Jerry Meyhan—bass guitar (10)
Dr. John—piano (10)
Dr. Robert—guitar (11)
Terry Callier—background vocal (11)
Dave Friedman—vibes (11)
Ben Watt—programming, guitar, keyboards, beats and abstract sounds (12)
Ryan Adams—guest vocals, piano, other electric guitar (13)
Matt Johnson—drums (13)
Adam Peters—keyboards (13, 14); string arrangement and conducting (14)
Sebastian Steinberg—bass guitar (14)
Victor Van Vugt—additional programming (14)
Scott Minor—percussion (14)
Richard George, Catherine Browning, Tim Myall, Jackie Norrie, Wendy De St Paer, Dave Williams, Brian Wright, Chris Koh—violin (14)
Sophie Sirota, Vince Greene—viola (14)
Andy Nice—cello (14)

Produced by:

Victor Van Vugt (1, 3-6, 8-10, 14); Ian Grimble (2); Youth (7); Dr. Robert (11); Ben Watt (12); Andrew Weatherall (reproduction on 3, 6)
Disc 2

Guest artists:

Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell and Jerome Sydenham—remix (1)
Mordy Feber—acoustic guitar (1)
Daniel Moreno—percussion (1)
Preven Everett—keyboards (1)
Y Cee—flute (1)
Ben Watt—programming, guitar, keyboards, beats, abstract sounds (3)
Sean Read—piano (5, 6); harmonium (6)
Terry Callier—vocals, guitar (6)
Dave Friedman—vibes (6)
Ted Barnes—acoustic guitar, electric guitar (6)
Henry Olsen—electric bass guitar (6)
Will Blanchard—drums, tambourine (6)
Sarah Willson—cello (6)
Howard Gott—violin (6)
Boscoe d'Olivera—percussion (6)
Martin Duffy—organ, piano (6)
William Orbit—guitars (8, 9); keyboards, beats (8)
Dean Ross—piano (9)
The Electric Strings—strings (9)
Caroline Lavelle—string arrangement (9)

Produced by:

Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell and Jerome Sydenham (additional production on 1); The Chemical Brothers (2); Ben Watt (3); Beth Orton and Brian O'Shaughnessy (5); Robert Howard (6); Sean Read (7); William Orbit (8-10)

Comments:

Beth Orton's first career retrospective gathers tracks from her first four major releases and some b-sides and rarities. Disc 1 (with the exception of the previously unreleased "The Same Day" and some edited tracks) is a pretty straightforward run through her albums—enjoyable, but not particularly compelling. Disc 2 is far more interesting—the 8 non-album tracks include a fun "Central Reservation" remix; a Chemical Brothers collaboration; several b-sides, including the lovely "Pedestal"; and two songs from the obscure Superpinkymandy release, including "Don't Wanna Know 'bout Evil," the highlight of the entire collection.
     All in all, a solid collection, but probably not essential except for serious fans wanting the rare and exclusive tracks. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Comfort of Strangers

Copy-protected disc

Release info:

2006—Astralwerks—0946 3 52345 2 7

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—acoustic guitar, guitar, electric guitar, piano, percussion, harmonica, vocals

Guest artists:

Jim O'Rourke—bass, electric guitar, piano, percussion, Rhodes, guitar, acoustic guitar, marimba, organ, backing vocals
Tim Barnes—drums, percussion
Rob Burger—slide guitar, organ, zither, piano, accordion
Karen Wultrich—violin, viola
Okkyung Lee—cello

Produced by:

Jim O'Rourke

Comments:

Comfort of Strangers is a beautiful album, rootsy and mellow. It's pretty down-tempo, and at first listen it doesn't have the same kind of spark that her previous work has. Except for the first single "Conceived" there aren't any songs that jump into my head.
     But while I enjoy the trip-hop, electronica and catchy hooks a lot on her previous albums, I don't miss them here. What's left is a kind of soulful rock-tinged folk, and there's a new intimacy. That's not to say that Comfort of Strangers is better or worse than her previous work, just different, but it works for me as an album, much more as an album than a collection of songs.
     The Limited Edition version of the album comes with a 5-song bonus disc, which is also good, the first 2 songs especially. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Sugaring Season

Release info:

2012—Anti-—87118-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Beth Orton—vocals and acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Rob Burger—piano, harmonium, pump organ, Wurlitzer, accordion
Brian Blade—drums and percussion
Sebastian Steinberg—acoustic and electric bass
Eyving Kang—viola (4, 10)
Ted Barnes—acoustic guitar (5, 6); banjo (7)
Laura Veirs—backing vocals (2, 4, 8)
Sam Amidon—Gibson archtop guitar (2, 6, 8); Nashville strung guitar (4); violin and backing vocals (5); organ (10)
Marc Ribot—nylong string guitar (1); electric guitar (3, 4)
Nate Query—bass (7); additional bass (4)
Carl Broemel—electric guitar (4)
Tucker Martine—percussion (8)
Rob Moose—string arrangement (1, 8); strings
Oliver Kraus, Beki Doe—string arrangement (3, 9)
Nico Muhly—string arrangement (7)
Caroline Shaw, Yuki Numata—strings
Ben Russlel—violin
Nadia Sirota—viola
Clarice Jensen—cello

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Beth Orton goes acoustic on this album, proving that she's always been a folkie at heart. This is a great collection of songs ranging from gentle ("Mystery") to light ("Call Me the Breeze," "See Through Blue") to moody ("Candles") and I can hear a through line from previous albums. "Magpie" would have fit easily on Trailer Park, for example, while "Poison Tree" could have been on Central Reservation. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Write to: Beth Orton, c/o Rough Trade Management, 66 Golborne Road, London W10 5PS, U.K., Fax 011 44 181 968 6715

Beth Orton has contributed songs to many compilations. Tracks unavailable on her own albums include:

  • "Wild World" on the How to Deal soundtrack (2003)
  • a live version of "Best Bit" on Bonnaroo 2004 (2005)
  • "Sisters of Mercy" on Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2006)
  • "Frankie" on The Harry Smith Project, Vol. 1 (2006)
  • "What a Wonderful World" on Starbucks' Winter Wonderland compilation (2008)
  • "Reach for the Sky" on Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill (2009)
  • "I Me Mine / Dig It" on Mojo Magazine's Let It Be Revisited (2010)
  • "Go Down Easy" on Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute to John Martyn (2011)
Collaborations include:

  • "Water From a Vine Leaf"* with William Orbit on his album Strange Cargo III (1993)
  • "Snapper" on Red Snapper's Snapper EP (1994)
  • "In Deep" on Red Snapper's The Swank EP (1994)
  • "Million Town,""Kiss of the Bee" and "She Cries Your Name" with William Orbit on his album Strange Cargo Hinterland (1995)
  • "Alive Alone" with The Chemical Brothers on their album Exit Planet Dust (1995)
  • "Where Do I Begin"* with The Chemical Brothers on their album Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
  • "Beautiful Way" with Beck on his album Midnite Vultures (1999)
  • "Love Can Do" with Terry Callier on his album Lifetime (2000)
  • "Brown Sugar" with Ryan Adams on Gimme Shelter, Vol. 1 (2001)
  • "The State We're In" with The Chemical Brothers on their album Come With Us (2002)
  • "When the Sun Comes Up" with Bert Jansch on his album The Black Swan (2006)
  • "Watch the Stars" with Bert Jansch and Kevin Barker on Jansch's album The Black Swan (2006)
  • "Katie Cruel" with Bert Jansch and Devendra Banhart on Jansch's album The Black Swan (2006)
  • the single "Sing" with Annie Lennox and many other artists (2007)
*Track appears on Pass in Time: The Definitive Collection.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-09-02 15:49:39.
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