Sugaring Season

Studio Album by released in 2012

Sugaring Season review

Bring back Beth Orton

Beth Orton, who had such an impressive start for her solo career, at the turn of the century, put her status under question. With the 2006 release of Comfort Of Strangers she seemed to have made up for the mediocre Daybreaker album, 2002. The so interesting synthesis of electronic music and folk proved to lose its attractiveness shortly, and Beth realized it quickly. Having kept the folk part, she turned to live instruments, which yielded the desired effect. And when it looked like the singer was going to rush forward and keep the streak of good releases alive, Orton actually vanished. The break she took looks particularly long when you take a look at her discography. No kidding, the next album surfaced only as many as six years later, in 2012. The new work was titled Sugaring Season and there is no need to say that this release is assigned to a very difficult mission: bring back the former Beth Orton to the audience, and the former glory to Beth Orton.

No cliches, no theatrics

Magpie is an ideal start for Sugaring Season. Mesmerizing, hypnotizing with her peculiar voice, Beth Orton draws the listener into another reality with a seeming effortlessness. Indeed, Orton keeps singing in the same manner she did before. Her delivery combines estrangement and indifference on the one hand and fragility and sensitivity on the other. The singer abstains from boosting emotions up to hyperbolical sizes, preferring a more delicate approach. Thank to her method, the dedication to her daughter, See Through Blue, which could have been but a beautiful lullaby, appears a touching, personal song. The same goes with ballad Last Leaves Of Autumn, which avoids using clichйs and being an imitation of hits by singers who have better vocals, thank to wonderful lyrics and genuine emotions. At the same time, sadness is endlessly deep in Something More Beautiful, a reference to the classic Orton style. However, it is worth mentioning that this album is much more colored and complex in terms of emotions than its predecessors where a sensation of inevitableness predominated. To a large extent, this is the credit of the musicians whose live sound brought a lot more energy and life into the space where cold electronic used to dwell.

Beth Orton’s singular approach

While such highlights as Candles, and State Of Grace do possess all marks of big hits aimed at wide audience, Beth Orton barely subconsciously turns her new album into a work for the chosen ones. First, not all were, are and ever will be used to her voice. Secondly, the complex arrangements with strings and guitar focuses from Mark Ribot will not be comprehended by everyone either. Thirdly, Beth Orton has remained an original artist who will not follow the patterns to please anyone. Aforementioned Candles is presented on the album as a record featuring the musicians rehearsing it not having an idea they were being recorded. The wordless repetition of bah-bah-bah in Dawn Chorus makes it clear from the start: her music is her kingdom where she rules whatever way she desires. Like it or not, Beth Orton, briefly speaking, has recorded what looks like her best album. The change of music components and the more confident vocals make Sugaring Season her most consistent and complete work where her long-known abilities are highlighted and new advantages introduced.