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Baker's Dozen

Beautiful, Beautiful Music: Beth Orton's Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , October 23rd, 2012 09:17

The singer-songwriter undergoes the "horrible" process of deciding on her top albums

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Earlier this month, Beth Orton returned with her first album in six years, Sugaring Season. The folk/electronica sound is no longer the focal point - electronics only line one track on the album - and instead, the LP is a set of perfectly formed folk songs, rendered with deft musicality, the end result of the assembled group of session aces - including Marc Ribot on guitar, Sebastian Steinberg on bass and drummer Brian Blade - that make up Orton's band. Rather than sticking in one mode, however, Orton places a fleeting piano-led waltz ('See Through Blue') that barely reaches the two-minute mark in the centre of the LP, and closes proceedings with 'Mystery', where her finger-picked guitar and sweetly-toned vocals build on an underlying drone.

The sonic imprint of Nick Drake and John Martyn lingers in the airy vocal melodies and jazzy inflections of songs like 'Dawn Chorus' and 'Poison Tree', two artists who, after much deliberation, made it into Orton's Baker's Dozen. At numerous points during our conversation, Orton outlines, and re-outlines, her ethos for choosing them, explaining: "I just picked these records because I wanted to talk about records that have directly affected my writing, I suppose, and how I approach what I do." Was it easy cutting your choices down to 13? "It's horrible! No-one should be made to do it!"

Grinning and bearing it, Orton did make her choices, and in time for her upcoming UK tour, beginning on November 25 at The Assembly in Leamington Spa - click on her picture below to begin scrolling through the albums.


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Oct 23, 2012 3:58pm

love beth's music, especially the first two early albums, the first of which would probably make it onto my baker's dozen list -

however, i'm surprised that there's no electronica in there, for someone who has been so influenced by (and influenced?)electronica music.

it suggests that her involvement in that whole scene was an affectation, mates doing favours, that kind of thing, which i'm sure wasn't the case...because her contribution to the success of the chemicals, and the way it influenced other acts at the time to use female vocals as a more integrated, organic part of the electronica composition process, was an important aspect of music's development in the nineties.

saw her live a long time ago now, and a more self-affacing and sincere musician would be hard to find.

best of luck, beth, with your music and your family, and thanks for writing and performing some truly inspirational, beautiful music ( an eternal tune).

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Reggie P
Oct 23, 2012 8:18pm

No Bert?

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Tony Tales
Oct 25, 2012 9:05am

A solid selection. Love that 'What's Going On' is in there; to me, the finest album ever recorded. Most of the other choices I could have guessed at but, surprisingly, not this for some reason. However, upon reflection, it makes sense. I would have thought Tery Callier or Fred Neil would feature but there you go... happy to be wrong.

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