Pass in Time: the Definitive Collection
is bound to do well because, frankly, people like Beth Orton. It's as simple as that. While she hasn't exactly set the world on fire since first coming to our attention as one half of Spill alongside William Orbit
, she's always boasted a most reliable voice that, while neither particularly unique nor entrancing, can sell a song most efficaciously.
Similarly, while it is highly unlikely that Beth is anybody's absolute favourite artist of all time, her appeal is exceptionally broad. When the Chemical Brothers need a surrogate female larynx for their populist electronica they invariably call on Beth; she's a stalwart of Radio 2, a less spiky and consequently more palatable Sinead O'Connor and during indie rock's 1996 heyday, NME's typically Britpop-hugging critics embraced Orton's career-encapsulating "She Cries Your Name" iron horse as their single of the week.
Pass in Time, meanwhile, throws out no less than 24 reasons why we like Beth Orton. Here are feather-light emotions, mellifluous, casually delivered vocal gymnastics, heartstring-stroking coffee-table melancholia, solo highlights and collaborations with the aforementioned Chemicals, William Orbit and Terry Callier. It's a solid, engaging anthology. It's unlikely to steal your heart and soul but you'll like it a heck of a lot. --Ian Fortnam