Central Reservation

Central Reservation

4.1 6
by Beth Orton
     
 

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On Central Reservation, ambient-folkie Beth Orton's eagerly anticipated -- and superb -- second full-length recording, the singer-songwriter favors bracing sentiments, inviting melodies, and dramatic instrumentation, sometimes lush, mostly acoustic and spare. On the opening track, "Stolen Car," she sings of love over a bed of strings, guitars, and vocalSee more details below

Overview

On Central Reservation, ambient-folkie Beth Orton's eagerly anticipated -- and superb -- second full-length recording, the singer-songwriter favors bracing sentiments, inviting melodies, and dramatic instrumentation, sometimes lush, mostly acoustic and spare. On the opening track, "Stolen Car," she sings of love over a bed of strings, guitars, and vocal harmonies, concluding "When every light speaks the language of love/And never held the meaning I was thinking of/I can't decide whether right or wrong/You left a feeling that I just do not belong." But belong she does, offering solace with her pure, ethereal vocals and ingenious lyrics, wrestling demons and triumphs both vivid and grand. Known for her work with electronica's leading lights (hailing from Norwich, England, she was discovered by William Orbit), Orton is assisted by Everything But the Girl's Ben Watt on two tracks, including the trip-hoppy "Stars All Seem to Weep" and a dance-y remix of the title track. Still, the presence of Watt and other high-profile guests (Ben Harper, Dr. John, Terry Callier) only serves to enhance the power of Orton's vision and the depth of her songs.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jason Ankeny
On her stunning sophomore album, Central Reservation, Beth Orton slips free of the electronic textures that colored her acclaimed 1996 debut, Trailer Park, stripping her music down to its raw essentials to produce a work of stark simplicity and rare poignancy. With the exception of a pair of Ben Watt-produced tracks ("Stars All Seem to Weep" and a remix of the title cut), Central Reservation rejects synthetic sounds and beats altogether in favor of an organic atmosphere somewhere between folk, jazz, and the blues; the focal point is instead Orton's evocatively soulful voice, which invests songs like "Sweetest Decline" and "Feel to Believe" with remarkable warmth and honesty. It's a risky move creatively as well as commercially -- after all, the club culture was the first to champion Orton's talents -- but it pays off handsomely; for all its brilliance, elements of Trailer Park already feel dated, but the new material possesses a timelessness that recalls the best of Nick Drake or Sandy Denny, with a haunting beauty to match. And while much has been made of the melancholy that pervades her music, ultimately Central Reservation is first and foremost a record about hope and survival; its emotional centerpiece, the seven-minute "Pass in Time" (a spine-tingling duet with legendary folk-jazz mystic Terry Callier), grapples with the death of Orton's mother, but its underlying message of healing and perseverance is powerfully life-affirming -- her music hasn't merely discovered the light at the end of the tunnel, it's now bathing in it.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/09/1999
Label:
Arista
UPC:
0078221903820
catalogNumber:
19038

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Beth Orton   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Dr. John   Piano
David Friedman   Vibes
Terry Callier   Background Vocals
Robert   Guitar
Ben Harper   Electric Guitar
Henry Olsen   Bass
Ben Watt   Guitar,Keyboards,Noise
Lucy Wilkins   Violin
Ali Friend   Bass
Calina de la Mare   Violin
Sara Wilson   Cello
Lascelles Gordon   Percussion
Oliver Kraus   Cello
Beki Doe   Violin
Howard Gott   Violin
Sean Read   Piano,Keyboards
Ted Barnes   Acoustic Guitar,Bouzouki,Slide Guitar
Will Blanchard   Drums
Andy Waterworth   Double Bass
Becca Ware   Viola
Ruth Gottlieb   Violin

Technical Credits

John Wood   Engineer
Robert   Producer
Giles Hall   Engineer
David Roback   Producer
Trevor Smith   Engineer
Mark "Spike" Stent   Producer
Victor Van Vugt   Producer,Engineer
Ben Watt   Programming,Producer,Engineer
Dick Meaney   Engineer
Beth Orton   Producer
Tim Young   Mastering

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