As eclectic as Van Morrison, and so much more
lain4ever | Los Angeles, CA | 04/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beth Orton can too easily be compared to Van Morrison, who melded celtic folk with rock, jazz and countless other styles.
In fact, Orton is far more eclectic, mixing classical violins and jazz and trip-hop together to make one of the best albums I've ever heard.
"Central Reservation" is a demonstration of just how diverse her stylings are. Songs such as "Stolen Car" feature cool mixes of upbeat trip-hop with folk and classical violins. And Orton is the sage who takes center stage when she sings, "When every line speaks the language of love/And never held the meaning I was thinking of/And I can't decide over right or wrong/You left the feeling that I just do not belong."
True, Orton isn't as riotously rebellious as Sleater-Kinney, who demanded that men dig her out of this mess. However, Orton has a sly way of upsetting the gender balance of power with biting words and orchestrations of electric cellos, among other instruments.
Other songs, such as "So Much More," feature the smoothest keyboards and electronic sounds, like a cool cross-breed of Enya and jazz. But this song is nowhere near as elegant as the seven-minute long "Pass in Time," with a gorgeous string ensemble playing to jazz basses and acoustic guitars. It's such a unique mix of country and jazz, with the fantastic singing talent of Terry Cavalier.
Although hard rock fans might sleep as Beth Orton slides by singing the beautiful acoustic songs "Sweetest Decline" and "Central Reservation," there's so much to love from the combination of guitars and keyboards. It sounds so calm, and yet so irresistable.
And by the time listeners think that's all that Orton can do, a jamming hip-hop beat plays in the song "Stars All Seem to Weep." Even if the song uses only two chords, Orton's voice makes the song so ethereal, as she sings, "I think about you in the moonlit night/And the stars all seem to weep/When there's so much love to give/There's never any time for sleep, yeah." Her use of short guitar samples and drifting keyboard sounds make for a chilling cosmopolitan sound like no other artist.
While artists such as Norah Jones have had trouble adjusting her quiet jazz sound, Orton truly commandeers this album with the best instrumentation I have ever heard in a female pop singer's album. It's not jazz, or pop, or rock or trip-hop--it's a sound that so genuinely belongs to Beth Orton. And she sounds so warm and eclectic that no other artist can even match her talent."
Nothing short of excellence
Andrew | AZ | 04/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This may not be the Beth Orton album I spin most, but it definitely is the best representation of her talents and one of the best in the female singer-songwriter genre.
The album ebbs and flows effortlessly between each track and across all types of music, often in back-to-back duos (2 electronica tracks, 2 alternative tracks, 2 acoustics, etc). "Sweetest Decline" is the song that caught my attention most, a sultry love-sick song that sounds like Carole King might have sung it first; even better is the fact that it's only the 2nd song on the album. "Pass In Time" ranks as one of those most beautifully moving songs about death (her mother's, in fact) and both versions of "Central Reservation" are great in how they complement one another. Towards the end of the album comes a quiet intensity in the one-two punch of "Blood Red River" and "Devil Song", where Beth shines in a minimalist production.
It's a shame Beth hasn't had greater success in the U.S, especially with an album like this, but it does make one giddy to feel like they have all this wonderful music to cherish by themselves."
One for the Collection
Feral Puma | Northern California, USA | 07/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is hauntingly sad in that she wrote it after her mother past away. It is truly beautiful. It's the best album by a female musician that I know of, and it'll be staying in the collection."