Beth Orton

Sugaring Season

(ANTI-)

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Beth Orton has taken her foot off the gas since her late 1990s heyday. Sugaring Season is only her second record in 10 years and the first since 2006's Comfort Of Strangers. Such are the wiles of giving birth to a daughter and having to find a new record contract. It would be a blast to announce that Orton has returned with an album of Mongolian throat singing set to death metal, but no. She picks up where she left off, well past the electronic undercurrents of yesteryear but with the same hazy autumnal voice and melancholy folk whimsy – enough like Dido to endear herself to Radio 2 controllers but enough like Sandy Denny to keep you listening. Sugaring Season initially sounds like one of those front-loaded records with a couple of isolated charmers like the rolling Call Me The Breeze and the cabaret-esque Candles. But other songs cross the ledger on repeated listens, above all the beguiling Last Leaves Of Autumn. Unless the very mention of her makes you recoil, this is time out put to good use.

Steven Vass