Artist - Beth Orton
Album - Comfort of Strangers
Label - EMI
The UK's favourite new folkie, Beth Orton, has spent some time with mild electronica. Here, she returns to a more familiar and traditional style. Fortunately, this fourth album is many degrees more authentic than some of the music she has made recently.
What it's not is particularly enjoyable, trading insight for earnestness, and new melodic approaches for variations on a theme. The songs, mostly short, blow by like a butterfly, rarely landing a hook.
Orton has never reached the level of iconic female folk singers like Michelle Shocked, and here only occasionally suggests the talent we once thought she possessed on her debut. Comfort of Strangers occupies a kind of hinterland between more jazz-influenced folk like Kathryn Williams and more successful, if less satisfying, songwriters like KT Tunstall. Like bran flakes, the album feels like it's supposed to be good for you, although there's not much pleasure to be had.
Adult Contemporary Essentials