Beth Orton: Valerie Phillips
David Browne
August 02, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Daybreaker

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Beth Orton
Producers
Astralwerks
genre
Rock

We gave it a B-

What is it about London and the sad-voiced women who drift out of it? Beth Orton wafts through Daybreaker as if the clouds refuse to scatter and the tea’s gone cold. Her last disc, 1999’s sparkling ”Central Reservation,” certified Orton as a new breed of folkie, incorporating techno and jazz as support for the breathy, spiky melancholy of her voice. ”Daybreaker” extends her range, taking detours into languid country, thanks to cameos from Emmylou Harris and Ryan Adams.

Yet this time, the arrangements that envelop Orton’s ruminations on various ill-suited partners are too hazy and languid. ”Daybreaker” starts promisingly with ”Paris Train,” featuring strings that sweep her up with them, and ”Mount Washington,” which glistens with coffee-table-tronica courtesy of recurring collaborator Ben Watt. But the CD grows gauzier — a reminder that without meaty accompaniment, Orton can be as dull as British dishwater.

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