Beth Orton: Sugaring Season – album review
After expressing doubts as to whether she would make a return to recording, Beth Orton finds inspiration and returns with the outstanding ‘Sugaring Season’
Beth Orton’s latest album is the result of several personal and musical transformations. Retreating from public life for a while, she moved back to Norfolk to raise her young daughter. It was here where she established regular contact with folk icon and guitar virtuoso Bert Jansch (with whom she collaborated on his superb 2006 album ”ËThe Black Swan’). The two began informally working together and Orton began taking lessons from him. He showed her alternate styles and tunings which she hadn’t used before and which allowed her to approach her songs in an entirely different way.
The revitalisation that came from this new approach was enhanced by her rekindling of old friendships, both musical and otherwise. She developed a regimented approach to her songwriting, oftentimes working through the night as her daughter slept. As her child grew, so did Orton’s canon of new material and before long, she yearned to be back in the studio.
The result is ”ËSugaring Season’, a sublime and beautiful collection which is arguably the singer’s greatest work in over fifteen years. The levels of production are beautifully authentic and equally breathtaking. They maintain the simplicity of passionate and traditional folk, whilst maintaining innovative and memorable structures which cry out for attention. Her voice has never sounded better, sweeping from the sound of a fragile daydreamer to a passionate, unconstrained vocalist oftentimes within the same song.
Highlights include the opening track ”ËMagpie’, ”ËSomething More Beautiful’ and ”ËCandles’. The version of the latter song which appears on the record is actually a rehearsal take, of which the musicians involved were unaware was recording. This is a prime example of how effortless and true this record sounds. Seek it out.
Beth Orton Tour dates:
Sunday, November 25 – Leamington Spa – Assembly Rooms
Monday, November 26 – Birmingham – Glee Club
Tuesday, November 27 – Sheffield – Memorial Hall
Thursday, November 29 – Ashford Kent – St. Mary’s Church
Friday, November 30 – Brighton – St Georges Church
Sunday, December 2 – Norwich – Arts Centre
Monday, December 3 – Milton Keynes – The Stables
Wednesday, December 5 – London – Union Chapel
Thursday, December 6 – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Friday, December 7 – Bristol ”â Thekla
Sunday, December 9 – Manchester ”â RHCM
Monday, December 10 – Portsmouth – Wedgewood Rooms
Tuesday, December 11 – Cardiff – Glee Club
Thursday, December 13 – Glasgow – Oran Mor
Friday, December 14 – Dublin (IE) – Pepper Canister Church