Release Date: Feb 7, 2006
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Singer-Songwriter
After 2002's somber and overdone Daybreaker, it seemed possible that Beth Orton was losing the focus and freshness that made her so compelling on Trailer Park and Central Reservation. How nice, then, it is to hear those qualities in abundance on Comfort of Strangers, which Orton recorded in just two weeks with producer Jim O'Rourke and percussionist Tim Barnes. She was moved to work with O'Rourke after hearing his eloquently simple Halfway to a Threeway EP, and the folky-yet-sophisticated sound of that release and Insignificance serves as the template for this album, particularly on the slightly twangy "Countenance," which showcases Barnes' subtle, intricately shifting rhythms.
Eight years ago Beth Orton came from an unlikely quarter – the Chemical Brothers’ camp – to bring a welcome sound. Despite the presence of contempo beats and electronics, the rich strings, acoustic strumming, unabashedly emotive singing, and heart-on-sleeve sentiments on Trailer Park harkened back to Sandy Denny and John Martyn’s best efforts from the ’70s. Two subsequent albums consolidated her audience, but to these ears they were disappointments, less ambitious production-wise and a bit melody-starved.