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Beth Orton – Sugaring Season

Lucy Elder


Sugaring Season has a rawer feel from Orton’s previous work with her haunting vocals commanding a central focus to the album. Nevertheless, fans of Orton’s earlier work will not be disappointed with this new release as Orton retains much of her original style, but shifts the emphasis from electronics to a more acoustic vibe.

Magpie, the debut single from this album, is a strong start and sets the tone for the rest of the album constructing an edgy vibe reminiscent of Orton’s previous releases. The modal musicality conjoins beautifully with the poeticism of the lyrics to give this album a lullaby like quality. Each track feels like a snapshot into a memory of a place or feeling. In Poison Tree, Orton adapts a poem by mystic Romantic poet William Blake to form the lyrics, which encapsulates the album’s sense of the historic meeting the present.

See Through Blue, Mystery and Autumn Leaves again have a folky feel, with echoes of old folk songs weaving their way through the lyrics and melodies. The quality of Orton’s voice combines eerily with the haunting arpeggios of Mystery, a track that stood out the most to me on this album. This sees Orton’s voice at its finest and this track is a thoughtful end to the album.

The electronics are still there, but are not the focus of this album, which allows Orton’s voice and instrumentals to blossom. Orton’s rebirth into a stripped back sound combined with the echoes of her past musical experience perfectly fit the crafted simplicity of the lyrics for her first album release in six years.