- 23 Sep 22
Seventh album from folktronica stalwart
Beth Orton has always quietly confounded expectations. Having first come to the world’s attention for her work with electro pioneer William Orbit, as well as Red Snapper and The Chemical Brothers, the music she released under her own name was far more laidback and folky, almost single-handedly creating the folktronica genre.
This seventh album, written on a battered old piano saved from Camden Market, sees Orton teaming up with drummer Tom Skinner (The Smile) and bassist Tom Herbert (The Invisible), alongside Manchester jazz-player Alabaster DePlume and multi-instrumentalist/composer Shahzad Ismaily. They’ve created an eight-track sashay through ambient, slightly jazzy and occasionally folky soundscapes, with just one nod to the dancefloor (‘Fractals’).
Orton’s voice could be given more prominence on occasion. It’s couched behind slow, ululating atmospherics on the seven-minute title track and the gospel-tinged ‘Haunted Satellite’. She moves front and centre on the insistent ‘Fractals’, waxing stridently over fractured percussion and serrated bassline, as well as the resigned ‘Lonely’ and the closing ‘Unwritten’.
On these tunes, she manages to sound both confident and world-weary – quite a feat. Elsewhere, ‘Arms Around A Melody’ is hypnotically enticing; ‘Forever Young’ is hauntingly lovely; and the toe-tappingly delicious ‘Friday Night’ is quietly arresting, Orton’s throaty late-night/early morning vocal a delight. A welcome return.