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Sugaring Season

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ANTI
  • ASIN: B008U2J3WG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,849 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

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.

BBC Review

With her unique voice and songwriting, it was obvious that Norfolk-born Brit Award-winner Beth Orton would outlive the hedonism of the early 90s. It was at that time she first emerged, from the rave scene and through collaborations with William Orbit, The Chemical Brothers and Andrew Weatherall, who produced her 1996 album, Trailer Park.

Busy with new-motherhood, the ex-comedown queen has been quiet since 2006’s Comfort of Strangers, itself arriving after a prolonged absence and a parting of ways with the Heavenly label. Sugaring Season continues her drift away from the folktronica of her earlier work into more traditional alt-folk pastures. And the pastoral is a significant influence over the album, song titles alone sounding like headlines in the RSPB’s monthly newsletter.

Her instantly recognisable delivery remains unchanged. It’s warm, wrought, intimate or nasal, depending upon your view. Such a voice perhaps explains her limited mainstream success, but then the sublime often struggles.

With folk-hued fare riding enjoying mainstream popularity, this is an opportune moment for Orton’s return. Recorded in Portland, Oregon alongside My Morning Jacket producer Tucker Martine, it continues her almost unsettling course of introspection. It is mostly self-written, although Chemical Brother Tom Rowland co-writes the surging, catchy Call Me the Breeze.

The mysterious Magpie is a perfect opener, spellbinding the listener into Orton’s world, as her vocal spins a mesmerising trance, harmonising with strings and pulling you into a swamp-blues embrace that does not let go. If it were any more intimate, it would be sitting on your lap. The lullaby-like See Through Blue will stir any parents’ future hopes for their offspring.

Songs occasionally drift a little aimlessly: Something More Beautiful sacrifices mood for a tune. But when listened to at night, Orton’s unique voodoo pulls you closer and standouts, such as the elegant Candles, which tiptoes elegantly through the darkest of hours, become evident.

This delicacy was always the logical progression, and fans growing with Orton will find much to love about Sugaring Season. Her dance roots are now far behind her.

--Martin Longley

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
What is known as the Sugaring Season runs in the US state of Vermont from around March to mid-April. It is when producers all around the state collect maple sap and boil it down to the sweet sticky syrup. It is the same maple trees that lead to that stunning sweep of colour in the vibrant fall foliage. Beth Orton's new album seems to combines both events. It is very much a hymn to Autumnal and pastoral moods but combined with a lovely bruised fragility which makes this album such a real treat.

Gone is all the shimmering electronica and digital files of the dallainces with Andy Weatherall or the Chemical Brothers, indeed the template is much more in tune with her frequent collaborations with Ryan Adams. Following a lengthy hiatus to bring up her daughter this is her first album in six years that firmly sticks to the acoustic knitting and is all the better for it. In that time she built up a considerable backlog of songs and in the selections here has largely chosen wisely. Opener "Magpie" has a bluesy tint to the essential folk based melancholy. It builds to a big finish as Orton's vocals stretch and the intensity ratchets up. More gentle are the following tracks, the lifting pop of "Dawn chorus" and the almost Nick Drake sounding guitar backdrop to "Candles" where Orton's haunting vocals are at their very best. The slow piano ballad laden with violins "Something more beautiful" is an undoubted highlight and will replay repeated listens. One sour note comes in the form of the Weimar cabaret of "See Through Blue" where she tries to adopt a Dietrich style loftiness but it all feels rather contrived and breaks the flow of the album. Still it comes in under two minutes and is followed by "Last leaves of Autumn" which is one of the best things Beth Orton has ever done.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The last three tracks listed in the product information are not actually on this cd - they are bonus tracks on the deluxe MP3 edition and Amazon have mistakenly said that you can get them on this cd too. Just so you know...
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Anyway I am a massive Beth Orton fan... but this is a step away from her usual dancey spin offs... this is mature, sweet, haunting and best listened to at night when you want to chill... My boyfriend is a die-hard reggae fan and even he fell in love with Beth.

It's not her most accessible album but it is a jump from her previous stark 'Comfort of Strangers' (also amazing) and after a few listens I started to navigate the album. It's a whole album experience rather than a singles machine. Beth's voice is just soooo beautiful!!!!! Can't wait to see her live!!!
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It's great that Beth is back in circulation again with a good album and I'm looking forward to seeing her in concert but Amazon screwed up on the description. When I pre-ordered the album about a month before its release, Amazon's website was showing 13 tracks on the CD and only 10 tracks on the MP3. I thought it a bit strange but I was a bit pissed off but not totally surprised when it turned out the other way round and no apologies from Amazon regarding their mistake. If they had got it correct at the beginning I would have ordered the MP3 version instead
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I must admit to being a big fan of Beth Orton, having seen her live many times and bought and listened to all her previous albums. Objectively, it has been hard to compare albums to her first, Trailer Park being such a classic for me, but this new album definitely stands apart, fantastic songwriting allayed to some super sonics, at least on the first half of the album, it drifts a little in the second half but I am excited about hearing these songs live.

If you have never heard Beth Orton before, this is a fine place to start, if you have and didn't see what the fuss was about, this may not change your mind on first listen but stick with it, there is real beauty to be found.

Here is hoping this is the start of a more prolific period... I can't wait another 6 years!!!
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Consistent quality is one of Beth Orton's real strengths, and although there isn't (for me) a stand-out track, the other side of the coin is that there isn't one I'd skip through either. In terms of her previous albums, this is (to me) more in the style of Comfort of Strangers than any other, and I'll admit that it took a little longer for me to get into that one than the others. Sugaring Season will grow on you, and it's an album that I think I'll still play in 10-15 years' time, just as I've done with every other Beth Orton album. Not because they're jaw-dropping, astounding seminal works, but because they're all very much fit for purpose. And every once in a while, in the mood of a moment, something in the music that you haven't noticed before will come to the surface, and you'll hear it, and you'll reflect. And on reflection, you'll wonder why you never noticed before. And you'll realise that Beth Orton, she's really somewhat better and maybe more intelligent than everyone takes her for on face value.

So, I've given it four stars, because that's where I am with it at the moment. But if I was writing this review in a decade, I think I'd be adding the fifth. Beth Orton's albums are like that.
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