In the six years since her last album, Beth Orton has married, become a mother, re-established her Norfolk roots and brushed up her guitar skills with help from her hero Bert Jansch. The result is a fresh, autumnal album that's unashamedly mature yet impressively free. In Magpie, there is a defiant sheen to Orton's swooning vocals. "Silence me and I won't be here any more," she trills coolly as a string section whips up a storm around her. The haunting melody and fast phrasing of Candies recalls Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billy Joe, while See Through Blue has all the child-inspired charm and sepia style of Kooks by David Bowie. The brilliant Something More Beautiful twists from a piano ballad into bold, theatrical pop, and although the second half of the album wanders into less adventurous folk fare, this confident return should, by rights, secure for Orton all the respect Cat Power regularly laps up.
Beth Orton: Sugaring Season – review