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Lanky, Folky Gal

Beth Orton
Trailer Park

Even before this album came out, I'd already heard quite a bit of Beth Orton due to her contributions to projects by other electronic musicians. Not only did she sing a track on the Chemical Brothers big debut album (the disc-closing "Alive Alone") and on Red Snapper's Reeled And Skinned, but she worked with William Orbit on Strange Cargo III ("Water From A Vine Leaf") and Strange Cargo IV - Hinterland ("She Cries Your Name," "Kiss Of The Bee," and "Million Town"). When all the great reviews for her solo debut started pouring in, though, I decided I should see what was going on.

Without lumping the album into categories, one of the best explanations for it might be "electronic folk music." In most of the songs, non-organic beats make themselves present, many times alongside an acoustic guitar or other sparse live instruments.

The first song on the disc is actually just a different version of the track that appeared on the William Orbit Strange Cargo IV release. "She Cries Your Name" is a little more stripped-down this time around, but the addition of stringed instruments makes it completely different than the original. A little more of an electronic influence can be heard on the second track (as he does on the sixth and tenth as well), when Andrew Weatherall (formerly of Sabres of Paradise, now of Two Lone Swordsman) takes over the mixing duties. It's an interesting mix of organic and electronic, with Ortons amazing vocals taking the forefront, as well as drifting in and out and over one another. Probably the best song on the album, though, is "Don't Need A Reason," even though it is completely stripped of electronic additions. The simple song moves gently with a full quartet and delicate guitars, and probably showcases Orton's vocals the most of any song on the album.

Overall, Trailer Park does a great job of integrating two sounds into a smooth little album. It's all very mellow and nice, and it makes for a great morning listening album. While the instrumentation is nice and well put-together, it's Ortons voice that is the highlight of this disc. I'm not sure if it's post-folk or what it's call, but I like it.

Rating: 7.5