Beth Orton
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Superpinkymandy , 6/10
Trailer Park , 6.5/10
Central Reservation (1999) , 7/10
Daybreaker , 6/10
The Other Side of Daybreak (2003), 4/10
Comfort of Strangers (2006), 6/10
Sugaring Season (2012), 4.5/10
Kidsticks (2016), 4/10
Weather Alive (2022), 7/10
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(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

London-based singer songwriter Beth Orton, having learned the trade from William Orbit and the Chemical Brothers, spiced her pensive folk ballads with electronic sounds on Superpinkymandy (EMI, 1993), recorded under the supervision of her mentor William Orbit and at times evoking Lida Husik's ethereal early work.

As a cross between Joni Mitchell and Bjork, Orton penned several gems on Trailer Park (Dedicated, 1997): She Cries Your Name, Touch Me With Your Love and Someone's Daughter. The ten-minute Galaxy Of Emptiness attempts an ambitious fusion of folk and trip-hop.

Best Bit announced the folkish style of Central Reservation (Arista, 1999), whose standout ballads include Blood Red River, Central Reservation, Devil's Song and the single Stolen Car. Except for Stars All Seem To Weep, Orton decided to focus on a more immediate and less cerebral style. As an old-fashioned folksinger, Orton prefers the waltzing tempo (Sweetest Decline, So Much More", Pass In Time) and the Joni Mitchell-esque hymn-like contralto.

A chronic illness (Crohn’s Disease), that she had contracted when she was 17, began to take a toll on her.

Three or four gems (the orchestral Paris Train, the frenzy Daybreaker, the country ballad Concrete Sky, the metaphysical ode God Song) rescue Daybreaker (Heavenly, 2002), an album that tends to repeat itself and to repeat the previous one. The Other Side of Daybreak (Astralwerks, 2003) contains the leftovers of the album's sessions and a few rarities.

Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks, 2006) is another case of a few powerful songs (Heartland Truckstop, Safe In Your Arms) and some lovely ballads (Worms, Shadow of a Doubt, Conceived) squeezed in too much filler. At best, they chart a psychological territory halfway between Joni Mitchell's austere meditations and Cat Power's naive confessions.

Orton abandoned that piano-based format for the folkier songs of Sugaring Season (Anti, 2012), notably Magpie.

In 2014 she was diagnosed with a new chronic disease: temporal-lobe epilepsy.

But she then returned to her original electronic style on Kidsticks (Anti, 2016), which sounds like a collection of leftovers from the early years.

Weather Alive (Partisan, 2022) is a concept album of sorts, each song being inspired by a weather forecast. It is perhaps her most atmospheric work, certainly the one on which her voice sounds more vulnerable. The seven-minute Weather Alive exudes the feeling of a fragile trance, plunging into colloquial tones and then drifting in a jazzy languor. That jazzy element permeates the syncopated and more vivid Fractals. The silky Haunted Satellite is a showcase for her sophisticated vocals that surf over a sparkling sea of trumpets, drumming, guitar and piano. Another trance-y, dreamy ballad, Forever Young, trots discreetly into pop-soul limbo. Her voice sounds tired and resigned in Arms Around a Memory The album ends with the sleepy Unwritten, seven minutes of pained phrasing and hushed instrumental background. The intersection between chamber-pop and soul-jazz proves to be a viable territory for the most confessional of stories.

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