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Daybreaker

Beth Orton

Release Date: 07.30.02
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Rock

80 Music-Critic Score
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What Goes On In a Heart
by: bill aicher


For many people the closest they've ever come to being a Beth Orton fan is through her collaborations with The Chemical Brothers on Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole and Come With Us - contributing vocals for a track on each. This is a rather unfortunate truth, especially given the fact that Orton is not only already one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time, but she is continually improving her game. Her latest, Daybreaker, is ample proof.


One of the most notable changes with Daybreaker for previous fans of Orton is the expansion of her already-full sound. Songs tend to have a much larger, lusher orchestration than before - at times incorporating strong horn sections; see "Anywhere." However, by bringing her sound to a more prevalant level we also find Orton herself sinking further into the background. She's always been the elusive one, but throughout Daybreaker we find her less and less - something which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather, by distancing herself from her music (both lyrically and sonically) Daybreaker results in a sort of absenteeist loneliness. It's unbelievably beautiful, yet still achingly pure and empty.


With this slight restructuring of sound Orton also finds herself working with a multitude of guest artists including current alt.country superstar Ryan Adams (who even goes so far as to pen "This One's Gonna Bruise"). "God Song," in addition to guest vocals by Adams also includes vocals by country legend Emmylou Harris. Elsewhere you'll find production by Ben Watts and the Chemical Brothers.


In most instances where a musician like Orton spends so much time and effort in collaboration we'll often see an overall lack of cohesion and direction. For proof just listen to Sheryl Crow's C'mon C'mon again. Thankfully with Daybreaker Orton has worked with her peers and mentors to build upon what she'd already exelled at: producing what is simply some of the most beautiful and touching "folk" music ever recorded.


Above all, I now have an album to replace Central Reservation to lose myself in during late nights writing and relaxing.
03-Aug-2002 5:40 PM