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Thursday, December 31, 2009


320 KBPS

Is Beth Orton the folkie Beck? Or is Beck an Orton with beats? Since both graze from genre to genre like goats feasting on whatever strikes their fancy, drawing parallels is tempting...and perhaps pointless. After all, both artists were born in 1970 and emerged at a time when musical categorization became an exercise in futility. English thrush Orton's third album--like her critically hailed debut and the Best Bit EP--prompts one to flash on an ever-swelling range of influences. Since she's blessed with the rich, warm voice of a true pop singer, it's easy to imagine her sharing space on some out-of-time radio playlist with Dusty Springfield (listen to the elegant, string-laden "Sweetest Decline"), except Orton's music draws on '90s trip-hop elements as well the jazzy folk of Tim Buckley and vet Terry Callier (reprising his Best Bit cameo). Orchestration, upright bass, vibes, and Orton's own resolute guitar give long, languid tracks such as "So Much More" and "Pass in Time" an Astral Weeks-like feel. All those touchstones and no fewer than six producers might imply that Central Reservation is something of a mishmash. In truth, Orton's overriding vision is all that's needed to create cohesion.

1. Stolen Car
2. Sweetest Decline
3. Couldn't Cause Me Harm
4. So Much More
5. Pass In Time
6. Central Reservation
7. Stars All Seem To Weep
8. Love Like Laughter
9. Blood Red River
10. Devil Song
11. Feel To Believe
12. Central Reservation (The Then Again Version)

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