Beth Orton: Classic or Dud?

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I just love Beth, great melodies/harmonies, great guitar playing, nippy rhythms, consoling and uplifting lyrics.

AND! On top of all that she's just the most willowy elfin faced beauty in pop *swoons*.

I suppose you could call me a fan.

Chris Sallis, Friday, 28 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Hey, were you the guy who told me to stop heckling her (opening for Beck) and snuck off like a coward when I called you out?

dave q, Friday, 28 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

it's always puzzled me why i like her so much. she's not exactly orginal and the second album was much more trad singer songwritery stuff in the league of second division folky types like vashti bunyan, but i do like her a lot. i think 1. the fact she's gorgeous helps 2. she has a really strange voice, especially in this genre. i'm thinking of stuff like "touch me with your love" where the music is so shifting and her voice is so warm on it. it was a new sound to me and i guess i've forgiven her for a lot of derivative tosh since then. can't help but fear the curse of diminishing returns will continue if she keeps on a ryan adams bent though...

commonswings, Friday, 28 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Dud. Saw her open for Beck on the "Midnite Vultures" tour, almost fell asleep.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 28 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Boooooooring!

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Friday, 28 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Wonderful. Really wonderful. Her version of 'I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine' is probably the greatest thing ever recorded.

Okay, not probably.

DavidM, Saturday, 29 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Heh I also saw Orton supporting John Cale - she was incredibly boring and useless.

Andrew L, Sunday, 30 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

No it wasn't me Dave. I haven't actually seen Beth live but I did capture Beck's set at Radiohead's South Park gig last summer.

He was pants.

chris sallis, Sunday, 30 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

The following is shamelessly stolen from the new Rocking Vicar newsletter:

Parishioner David Quantick: "Mention of Terry Callier reminds me of his one -time collaborator, honking fake folkie Beth Orton, whose Loose Ends debut was marred, not by her cawing Nick Drakeisms, but by a spectacularly inept interview by Ned Sherrin, whose knowledge of Heavenly Records' recording artistes might be even slimmer than one suspects.

NED: Beth Orton ... come and join us, Beth.

BETH: Fanks.

NED: So ... you're a country and western singer, rather unusual for these times?

BETH: No. No, I'm not a country and western singer.

NED: I ... see. (angry look at researcher behind glass, rustle of papers). Now, your new album is influenced by a variety of other country and western singers, isn't it?

BETH: I'm not a country and western singer. I don't really like country and western.

NED: I see ... must have a word with my, ha ha ha, researchers ... (angrier look than before, long pause). So ... which country and western acts have been the biggest influence on you?

BETH: Er... I'm not a country and western singer...

Andrew L, Wednesday, 3 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

two months pass...
i have been really liking the song "think about tomorrow"

ron (ron), Thursday, 12 September 2002 05:08 (twenty years ago) link

pace Quantick - I love Beth's version of "Dolphins" with Terry C - the first thing she's done since "She Cries Your Name" that's really made me prick up my ears. She kinda personifies weedy beige folkpap nowadays tho doesn't she? If Coldplay were a girl...or something.

Charlie (Charlie), Thursday, 12 September 2002 05:14 (twenty years ago) link

The Ronettes version of "I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine" is probably my favorite song of all time.

I've never actually heard Beth, but she's really cute.

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Thursday, 12 September 2002 05:20 (twenty years ago) link

check out this photo, it's really wonderful:

http://www.beth-orton.co.uk/BethPics/Plants.jpg

ron (ron), Thursday, 12 September 2002 05:22 (twenty years ago) link

Did she actually say she doesn't like country & western? Well fuck her.

James Blount (James Blount), Thursday, 12 September 2002 06:54 (twenty years ago) link

I really love her second album. Yeah, not original, but has some great melodies and production touches, aphoristic-style lyrics that actually work. First one is pleasant but I'm not as into it, and I haven't been able get into the new one yet.

Although, I'm always gonna have a soft-spot because physically she reminds me of an old summer love. I think even her speaking voice/accent are similar to the gurl in question. (Not a wholly defensible take on her, I'll admit.)

wl, Thursday, 12 September 2002 12:11 (twenty years ago) link

i have never heard her talk, but i would really like to. i got up this morning and listened to this song about 10 times in a row

ron (ron), Thursday, 12 September 2002 13:53 (twenty years ago) link

I think she is a snoozefest. (And no, that was not a compliment.)

Mary (Mary), Thursday, 12 September 2002 14:06 (twenty years ago) link

Classic but I'm a bit disappointed with the last album. I worry about the diminishing returns as well. The fandom is starting to get into unconditional love, though, so I've lost my objectivity. I've gotten to interview her and she is even more gorgeous and delightful in person. Oh, and she talked about how big of an Emmylou Harris fan she was, so I don't know what the not liking C&W comment was about.

teeny (teeny), Thursday, 12 September 2002 14:21 (twenty years ago) link

one year passes...
So, when will the Four Tet collaboration album be out?

This could be the big(ger) one...

mark grout (mark grout), Friday, 19 March 2004 20:22 (eighteen years ago) link

I love, love, love her. I even put her show here in Dallas two summers ago in my personal all-time Top 10 Shows. Wonderful voice and she's just absolutely gorgeous. This may be over the top, but I don't care.

Will you marry me, Beth?

boldbury, Friday, 19 March 2004 21:34 (eighteen years ago) link

I just sold her first record, it was a relief.

The Rebukes of Hazard (mjt), Friday, 19 March 2004 21:37 (eighteen years ago) link

is there really a four tet collab? I love her first two records, and think there are moments on Central Reservation that approach being the most perfect examples of melody of the past ten years; but her last record didn't do a whole lot for me, too slick and the songs didn't stick.

she has a terrible following in the US, her live show two years ago was populated by drunk blonde yippie yuppie women who talked through the whole thing.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Friday, 19 March 2004 22:18 (eighteen years ago) link

did you see her in los angeles?

im excited if this four tet thing is legit. i tend to favor her folktronic songs (ugh I just said that) more than some of her straight up traditional kinda stuff.

bill stevens (bscrubbins), Friday, 19 March 2004 22:32 (eighteen years ago) link

san francisco. I think a radio station gave away lots of tickets, hence the inattentive crowd.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Friday, 19 March 2004 22:40 (eighteen years ago) link

eight years pass...

i think something new is supposed to come out on ANTI- this year. i hope so. i've been listening to the last one a lot lately (comfort of strangers) which is really so good. just heartbreakingly beautiful at times.

Mordy, Thursday, 31 May 2012 02:32 (ten years ago) link

like i don't know how comfort of strangers was missed on ilx when it came out? maybe ppl talked about it on another thread... idk

Mordy, Thursday, 31 May 2012 02:34 (ten years ago) link

Time moves so sure
Runs rings around the trees

Mordy, Thursday, 31 May 2012 02:35 (ten years ago) link

Glad to learn this revive did not mean she was dead.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 31 May 2012 02:50 (ten years ago) link

oh my god that would been terrible

Mordy, Thursday, 31 May 2012 02:51 (ten years ago) link

i like beth, but i wonder whether she'll ever top "she cries your name" -- nothing else I've heard really comes close, but I should probably listen to comfort of strangers again.

tylerw, Thursday, 31 May 2012 03:52 (ten years ago) link

I don't think she's ever been better than on Water From A Vine Leaf.

brotherlovesdub, Thursday, 31 May 2012 04:33 (ten years ago) link

it's been a long time...

Mark G, Thursday, 31 May 2012 06:59 (ten years ago) link

She did 'dig it' on a Mojo 'tribute to Let It Be' album, 'rocking out' actually suits her she should do it more often..

Mark G, Thursday, 31 May 2012 07:12 (ten years ago) link

listening to central reservation tnite. pretty great.

Mordy, Saturday, 2 June 2012 02:32 (ten years ago) link

8 years pass...

andrew m., Saturday, 2 June 2012 04:35 (ten years ago) link

folk...tronica

andrew m., Saturday, 2 June 2012 04:36 (ten years ago) link

"central reservation" was great. it really captures that moment

teledyldonix, Saturday, 2 June 2012 23:26 (ten years ago) link

i just heard/found out about this for the first time like two weeks ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wZrBVWTn8c&feature=related

yorba linda carlisle (donna rouge), Saturday, 2 June 2012 23:38 (ten years ago) link

She popped up at a Sam Amidon concert I went to a couple of months ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJzbkvGkQ3g
Still not singing her own songs though.

Moon Fuxx (Jill), Saturday, 2 June 2012 23:56 (ten years ago) link

Well, I knew the track but I never knew about that video for the "Spill" track!

Mark G, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 23:14 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

is there a date?

Mordy, Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:15 (ten years ago) link

UK=1st Sept, USA=2nd sept.

Mark G, Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:52 (ten years ago) link

'Magpie'
'Dawn Chorus'
'Candles'
'Something More Beautiful'
'Call Me The Breeze'
'Poison Tree'
'See Through Blue'
'Last Leaves of Autumn'
'State of Grace'
'Mystery'

Mark G, Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:49 (ten years ago) link

i'm excited!

Mordy, Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:55 (ten years ago) link

Yaaaay beautiful Beth

Ówen P., Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:13 (ten years ago) link

New single, "Something More Beautiful". Nice late-summer vibe, but nothing amazing. Still...

http://youtu.be/028lDfUo5MQ

DavidM, Wednesday, 25 July 2012 15:12 (ten years ago) link

three weeks pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il3tU0-qsCM

DavidM, Thursday, 16 August 2012 20:28 (ten years ago) link

pretty good! john martyn-y.

tylerw, Thursday, 16 August 2012 20:49 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

Oh wow, what a remarkable album. I'm on my third play and it just keeps getting better.

doug watson, Friday, 23 September 2022 02:32 (six days ago) link

new one is the first thing i've heard by her but it's wonderful, guess i really should check out her discography

ufo, Friday, 23 September 2022 03:39 (six days ago) link

cant wait to hear it. 'weather alive' is my favourite song of the year

flopson, Friday, 23 September 2022 06:12 (six days ago) link

It was the "later Talk Talk" comparison in the reviews that encouraged me to give it a listen. I was expecting something similar to the Weather Station album, which was pleasant, but this record is on another level. An utter surprise, loose, impolite, vulnerable.

doug watson, Friday, 23 September 2022 10:16 (six days ago) link

This is quite something, especially "Weather Alive". I haven't heard anything she's done since Trailer Park, which I loved as a teenager but have never revisited.

I'm having trouble finding full credits, but it's worth mentioning Tom Skinner, Shahzad Ismaily, and Alabaster de Plume (just sax) are on the very good "Fractals". I'd guess Skinner is on some other tracks too as the drumming is really good, but I'm not sure

rob, Friday, 23 September 2022 17:13 (six days ago) link

still think she should be the one doing duet albums with robert plant.

Thus Sang Freud, Friday, 23 September 2022 18:10 (six days ago) link

i think her band for the whole album was alabaster deplume, tom skinner, shahzad ismaily and tom herbert

ufo, Friday, 23 September 2022 23:07 (six days ago) link

This is great, I haven't thought about Beth Orton since her (probably still good?) first album and wouldn't have checked it out without ILM enthusiasm.

50 Words for Snow is the main association for me, also sentimental Tom Waits songs for some reason.

TWELVE Michelob stars?!? (seandalai), Saturday, 24 September 2022 17:08 (five days ago) link

y’all should check out kidsticks from 2016 too

brimstead, Saturday, 24 September 2022 17:42 (five days ago) link

it’s more uhhh pop i guess

brimstead, Saturday, 24 September 2022 17:43 (five days ago) link

First listen tonight and it's gorgeous. I pretty much switched off after Central Reservation but very glad I saw this thread!

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Saturday, 24 September 2022 18:59 (five days ago) link

^ Weather Alive sounds great.

Must admit that chat about Beth Orton in 2022 made me think something terrible had happened.

djh, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:08 (five days ago) link

Aye, same. ^

Fwiw, I don't think the 'the late Talk Talk' thing does anyone any favours. Nothing is like late Talk Talk.

I saw Beth Orton at a 'secret' King's College gig some time in 2000/2001. It was a gorgeous gig but there was a fire alarm halfway through. I ended up standing out in the rain, next to Jarvis Cocker and Mark Webber. Jarvis peered at me and said 'don't I know you from somewhere?'. I nervously said no, and have since convinced myself that if I'd said yes my whole life would have been different.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:15 (five days ago) link

TBF when I compared it (elsewhere, though maybe here too) to Talk Talk I was speaking specifically about the arrangements and guitar tones on the title track.

akm, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:16 (five days ago) link

this is getting raves in some wild places (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal)

rob, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:17 (five days ago) link

business press <3 beth

flopson, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:22 (five days ago) link

i'm waiting for Barron's to weigh in

rob, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:30 (five days ago) link

the whole album is very good but the first two tracks are utterly transcendent

very much on that talk talk/blue nile/david sylvian etc. axis which i'm always here for

ufo, Saturday, 24 September 2022 19:54 (five days ago) link

Likewise. Although I'd argue it's more VM's Common One than say, Spirit of Eden or Brilliant Trees. But yeah, it's definitely scratching the same itch.

doug watson, Saturday, 24 September 2022 20:22 (five days ago) link

Apologies - didn't mean to sound snippy about the Talk Talk comparison.
Friday Night is just gorgeous.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Saturday, 24 September 2022 20:34 (five days ago) link

Well this is just spectacular. The equivocal nature of Beth’s voice (always sounding like it’s threatening not to cohere into words) and the diffuse arrangements suit each other perfectly.

“Friday Night” is very The Blue Nile, yes (has Kevin heard it?), but otherwise i’m (unsurprisingly) getting strong John Martyn vibes - also the last few Ben Howard albums (which in turn were self-consciously “modern martyn”).

Tim F, Sunday, 25 September 2022 22:37 (four days ago) link

she's always been in the Martyn tradition to me, particulary the second album.

"y’all should check out kidsticks from 2016 too"

meh, that album is very weak IMO, and definitely overshadowed (in california at least) by the outcry over her director's dumb decision to have her paint a Joshua Tree for a video.

I was a huge fan for her first three albums and then kind of lost track of her work; only recently listened to Sugaring Season which I think is pretty strong; Comfort of Strangers, despite having O'Rourke on as producer which should be a homerun, didn't stick in my mind at all; and as I just said, I think Kidsticks is kind of a mess. I gather she's had some difficulties in the years since, and apparently almost lost her voice, so this album is like a gift.

akm, Sunday, 25 September 2022 22:45 (four days ago) link

definitely hearing van morrison in this like doug said. also her voice sometimes makes me think of karen dalton, the way she sometimes sounds like she's singing like a muted trumpet

o shit the sheriff (NickB), Sunday, 25 September 2022 22:47 (four days ago) link

also that rustin man / beth gibbons record seems like a relevant predecessor

o shit the sheriff (NickB), Sunday, 25 September 2022 22:50 (four days ago) link

...he wrote just having listened to the song 'forever young'

o shit the sheriff (NickB), Sunday, 25 September 2022 22:55 (four days ago) link

that's one of the best songs on the album as loathe as I am to like yet another song with that title

akm, Sunday, 25 September 2022 23:02 (four days ago) link

"I haven't thought about Beth Orton since her (probably still good?) first album" oh yeah it is still good (I assume you mean Trailer Park and not Superpinkymandy). TP and Central Reservation got well deserved RSD reissues this year.

akm, Sunday, 25 September 2022 23:05 (four days ago) link

I'm checking this out now. "Friday Night" sounds like it might have been a minor radio hit from precisely 1989-1990 (in a good way).

Chris L, Sunday, 25 September 2022 23:07 (four days ago) link

guess I'm one more who hasn't kept up since Central Reservation, now curious again. also because she has by far the most interesting one of these I've read: https://pitchfork.com/features/5-10-15-20/beth-orton-on-the-music-that-made-her/

sloop johnnin' skater (geoffreyess), Monday, 26 September 2022 03:27 (three days ago) link

Oh this is very special, and very much my thing. I'm definitely getting the Sylvian and late Talk Talk vibes on the title track. (Incidentally those two artists specifically are pretty much all I've been listening to recently, so I'm glad to have something new to indulge in.)

I've never given Orton a listen before; what's worth checking out from her back catalogue? Albums please, I'm an album gal. I like to immerse.

The Ghost Club, Monday, 26 September 2022 06:19 (three days ago) link

I always loved her first album (that's "Superpinkymandy") but it's very 'clubby' and kinda overwhelms her at times - it was going to come out in the UK as "Burn Blind" by Spill.

The next two, you know. Fairly easy to find second-hand. "Daybreaker" goes here too.

"Comfort of Strangers" has some whoa moments, yeah discover that one!

Mark G, Monday, 26 September 2022 06:51 (three days ago) link

absolutely fucking astonishing shattering record

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Monday, 26 September 2022 19:16 (three days ago) link

I'm liking this album and reacquainting myself with her voice (songwriting and otherwise). I loved Center Reservation but haven't heard much else after it.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 26 September 2022 19:32 (three days ago) link

*Central

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 26 September 2022 19:33 (three days ago) link

from that pitchfork article, had no idea about this: "When I was 19, my mom died suddenly. On the first anniversary of her death, I went to Thailand and became a nun for three months. I lived in a monastery and meditated a ridiculous number of hours a day, and had some quite extraordinary experiences. "

akm, Monday, 26 September 2022 19:50 (three days ago) link

oh wow and she put the Cleo Sol album on there, nice choice. I love beth orton!

akm, Monday, 26 September 2022 19:51 (three days ago) link

yeah geoffreyess otm about that piece. ilm had already piqued my interest but reading that made me listen to the album

rob, Monday, 26 September 2022 19:54 (three days ago) link

'Pass in Time' from Central Reservation is about her mum and is absolutely beautiful (features Terry Callier too, resonating like a cathedral around her).

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 26 September 2022 20:38 (three days ago) link

a Martyn-esque vocal, that one

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 26 September 2022 20:42 (three days ago) link

Aye, for sure. Almost disappointed to realise it's not Danny Thompson playing bass.

Should probably be a thread for this, but her whispered 1-2-3, 2-2-3 on 'Pass in Time' is one of the finest I can think of.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 26 September 2022 20:59 (three days ago) link

My vinyl copy came today. It sounds glorious. 'Friday Night' has gone instantly into the 'songs that nail the comfort/painful nostalgia of middle age*' canon. I find it a difficult listen.

*which is actually a pretty shallow canon, come to think of it. Thread idea?

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 19:30 (two days ago) link

'Shallow canon' seems like a mixed metaphor, but I can't think of the right adjective.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 19:31 (two days ago) link

Have ordered. Not sure I would have heard the album without this thread (and then a handful of plays on Spotify).

djh, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 21:28 (two days ago) link

i haven't heard the album yet but that video for "friday night" is the best thing i've seen in years?

ꙮ (map), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 21:31 (two days ago) link

Chinaski, you'll need to elaborate on what you mean by "comfort/painful nostalgia of middle age". Or maybe just list a few more titles?

doug watson, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 21:47 (two days ago) link

I'm sure it sounds gorgeous on vinyl, but I have a hard time committing to dynamic albums with lots of quiet passages on LP. Even with a good clean, the odd pop or crackle always seems to arrive at the wrong moment and shake me out of the spell. It was a toss up, but I ended up ordering the CD.

The Ghost Club, Tuesday, 27 September 2022 21:47 (two days ago) link

loving the album. it feels really light and comfortable overall.

ꙮ (map), Tuesday, 27 September 2022 23:46 (two days ago) link

For me "comfort/painful nostalgia of middle age" is whatever I'm listening to rn.

The Ghost Club, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 00:05 (yesterday) link

[checks what's playing on the stereo, realizes it's Roxy Music and is forced to concur with Ghost Club]

doug watson, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 00:37 (yesterday) link

For me "comfort/painful nostalgia of middle age" is whatever I'm listening to rn.

Hahaha. Yes, this.

'Friday Night' as I read it, is about Orton escaping the Friday night cycle of booze and regret, but there's an ache of nostalgia in the 'Friday night' refrain.

As a specific category, it was a vague thought about a particular kind of song, from an artist of a particular age, looking back from a place of safety at a time of wildness. I'm sure there must be a raft of examples. "All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem, probably.

I long for the days of disorder. I want them back, the days when I was alive on the earth, rippling in the quick of my skin, heedless and real. I was dumb-muscled and angry and real. This is what I long for, the breach of peace, the days of disarray when I walked real streets and did things slap-bang and felt angry and ready all the time, a danger to others and a distant mystery to myself.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Wednesday, 28 September 2022 14:52 (yesterday) link


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