Beth Orton | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Beth Orton


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Although Beth Orton has sung with the Chemical Brothers, Red Snapper, and William Orbit, she's no dance diva. Several tunes on the London resident's debut record, Trailer Park (Dedicated), are garnished with spacey electronics and propelled by shuffling dance beats, but her songs really pay homage to the icons of 1970s English folk rock. And like her elders, Orton isn't afraid to rely on contemporary production to put forth her introspective lyrics and indelible melodies. Her deft, emotive vocals resemble those of the late, great Sandy Denny, especially on the country-tinged "How Far"; the blend of swinging acoustic bass (played by Red Snapper's Ali Friend) and lilting mandolin on "Someone's Daughter" recalls parts of John Martyn's Solid Air; and the gorgeous string arrangement on "Don't Need a Reason" is indebted to the symphonic settings that Robert Kirby created for Nick Drake's Bryter Layter. Most of Orton's songs have to do with falling in and out of love or realizing one's dreams, but her hard-nosed practicality usually saves them from unbearable sentimentality. Saturday (at Lilith Fair), 4:30 PM, New World Music Theatre, I-80 and Harlem, Tinley Park, 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212; and 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160. BILL MEYER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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