Sugaring Season Beth Orton

Cover Sugaring Season

Album info



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  • 1Magpie04:32
  • 2Dawn Chorus03:24
  • 3Candles03:45
  • 4Something More Beautiful03:28
  • 5Call Me the Breeze03:52
  • 6Poison Tree04:06
  • 7See Through Blue01:54
  • 8Last Leaves of Autumn04:01
  • 9State of Grace04:15
  • 10Mystery04:08
  • 11That Summer Feeling04:40
  • 12I Wasn't Born To Follow04:00
  • 13Goin' Back04:04
  • Total Runtime50:09

Info for Sugaring Season

Beth Orton's first album in six years, Sugaring Season, was recorded in Portland, Oregon with producer Martine Tucker. Orton also called upon a host of old friends to contribute to the album, including keyboardist Rob Burger, bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and legendary jazz drummer Brian Blade, along with guitarists Marc Ribot and Ted Barnes and folksinger Sam Amidon.

It’s been six years since Beth Orton’s last long-player, but Sugaring Season has been well worth the wait. A sublime album of beautifully crafted songs, it harks back to the core and substance of her big-selling debut Trailer Park and that record’s cracking follow-up, Central Reservation. But, rather than a regression in style, Sugaring Season introduces a fresh and vital newness to Orton’s sound; rich in melodic know-how, with shimmering orchestrations and delicately brittle vocals, it’s her most assured album to date and one that benefits from the wealth of knowing maturity and experience that Orton brings to this release.

That’s not to say that Orton’s trademark air of vulnerability is absent from Sugaring Season. It’s in plain sight from the outset, with the repeated “Silence me and I won’t be here anymore” on opener ‘Magpie’, to the assertion that “I just found another way to cry” on ‘Candles’. But when her vocal comes in on ‘Something More Beautiful’ an intangible authority is evident; the paper-thin delicacy still exists but here it is subordinate to an unfamiliar note of confidence. That confidence is sensitively underscored by the authoritative, pulsing drive of jazz legend Brian Blade’s drumming, which, along with the piano and bass of Rob Burger and Sebastian Steinberg, builds to an orchestral chorus of majestic sweep. But Orton’s nuanced vocal always remains front and centre throughout the album, thanks to the splendid production of Tucker Martine.

Sugaring Season refers to the tapping of maple trees and the process of making maple syrup – a major industry in Portland, Oregon, where the album was recorded. It’s perhaps ironic, then, that the album is anything but sweet and sticky. The world-weariness and raw emotion of the songs prevent any such possibility, but Orton has been careful to ensure that nothing here is maudlin or overly depressing – merely dipped in that toothsome melancholy that she does so very well. The only song that threatens to break the mood is the jaunty waltz, ‘See Through Blue’, but the restraint and musicianship of the performers keeps it just on-side. Still, it makes one wonder what a Beth Orton album of such songs would be like.

As Orton’s career has progressed some have bemoaned the disappearance of the electronic and trip-hop elements of her earlier work. Most of Sugaring Season continues this progression, but in the light of the ’80s videogame-like intro to ‘Candles’ perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing after all. Always a difficult one to classify, Orton’s sound has been, not un-humorously, labelled ‘folktronica’. Dropping the second element of this contraction is appropriate, and her sound now is closer to the ‘f’ word than ever before. Still, this artist has always been a law unto her own impulses, and this latest record rewards them well. Sublime in its yearning, raw-nerve atmosphere, Sugaring Season deserves to go down as as a modern classic; we should all be looking six years ahead to 2018 if that’s how long it takes for Beth Orton to produce another album of such rare and beguiling beauty. (Adrian Balston)

Beth Orton, vocals & guitar
Rob Burger, bass
Sebastian Steinberg, bass
Brian Blade, drums
Marc Ribot, guitars
Ted Barnes, guitars
Sam Amidon, vocals
Eyvind Kang, violin

Produced by Tucker Martine

Elizabeth Caroline Orton, commonly known as Beth Orton, is a BRIT Award–winning English singer-songwriter. Known for her "folktronica" sound, which mixes elements of folk and electronica, she was initially recognised for her collaborations with William Orbit and the Chemical Brothers in the mid 1990s — but these were not Orton's first recordings. She released a solo album, Superpinkymandy, in 1993. Since the album was only released in Japan, it went largely unnoticed by international audiences. Her second solo album, Trailer Park, garnered much critical acclaim in 1996. With the release of the albums Central Reservation (1999) and the 2002 UK top 10 album Daybreaker, Beth developed a devoted fan base. On her 2006 release, Comfort of Strangers, she has moved towards a more folk-based sound and away from the electronic sound of past albums.

American films and television programmes such as Felicity, How to Deal, Charmed, Dawson's Creek, Vanilla Sky and Grey's Anatomy have featured her music and provided her with exposure to an American mainstream audience.

Born in East Dereham, Norfolk, on 14th December 1970, she then moved to Norwich where she was then raised on a pig farm. In 1985 she moved to East London. Her father, an architectural draughtsman, left her mother, an artist and political activist, when Beth was eleven, she lived with her mother and her two brothers. Her father died shortly afterwards. In 1989 after the death of her mother from cancer Beth travelled to Thailand, where she resided with Buddhist nuns. Beth was late onto the music scene having previously worked as a waitress at Pizza Hut and even owned her own catering company. She was more interested in acting during her early career, having enrolled at the Anna Scher Theatre School, and she spent some time touring ‘Une Saison en Enfer’ playing Rimbaud's lover with a fringe theatre company throughout the UK, Russia and Ukraine.

Her first contribution in music came when she met William Orbit at a London nightclub, when he tried to borrow a cigarette from her. They began a relationship shortly after, and he invited her to do some spoken word for his current Strange Cargo project, but she drunkenly decided to sing also. Possibly the best-known work from that time is "Water from a Vine Leaf", which she co-wrote and which was released as a limited-edition single. As a duet called Spill, William Orbit and Beth released a cover version of John Martyn's "Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil", this was the first song that they recorded together, initially released in Japan, it was re-released in the UK in 1997.

Booklet for Sugaring Season

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