Beth Orton – Daybreaker

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Having won a Brit Award for her second album CENTRAL RESERVATION, Norfolk-born Beth Orton may well be ready to break through to the big league. Having gained a significant amount of attention in the States (she appeared on the soundtrack of ‘Vanilla Sky’, for example), her third album DAYBREAKER sees her hone the potential she showed on the first two.

Produced by the impressive line up of William Orbit, Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt, Nick Cave collaborator Victor Van Vugt, and her old muckers the Chemical Brothers, DAYBREAKER sees her blend dance beats and folky psychedelia with even more seemingly effortless panache than before.

From the lush orchestral backing of opener PARIS TRAIN to the space jazz of ANYWHERE and the shimmering MOUNT WASHINGTON, Orton’s distinctive, dreamy voice laments the passing of time, opportunity and love, wrapped up in imagery of nature in full bloom and the ever-present hope offered by the dawn of a new day.

While the Chemical Brothers-produced title track is a stand-out force of trippy electronics, it is contrasted beautifully by the Ryan Adams-penned THIS ONE’S GONNA BRUISE, a fragile ballad that could easily have come from the latter’s HEARTHBREAKER album, and by the languid CONCRETE SKY, co-written by Johnny Marr and featuring Adams on vocals.

Elsewhere, country legend Emmylou Harris lends her voice to GOD’S SONG, while William Orbit builds the closing THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW from a gentle, bubbling intro into a belter of a chorus, Beth intoning “I’ve been waiting for you / I’ve been created for you”, before fading out on a cloud of country guitar and bongos.

Two years in the making, DAYBREAKER has evidently been a labour of love for Beth Orton as well as a shot at mainstream success. And, on the strength of the quality here, who could begrudge her that?

5 stars