Here’s a clip of Beth Orton’s ‘Central Reservation’, the title track to the 1999 album of the same name, and re-mixed here by Ben Watt, the album’s producer. This song appeared in many forms, including re-mixes by Orton’s former collaborator William Orbit.
Two versions of the song appear on the album as well, one being the original track, and the other being an alternate take, with a decidedly Soweto–meets-disco lilt. It’s the latter which you’re hearing here, re-mixed by Ben Watt who is known as one half of Everything But the Girl (you guess which half…).
Beth Orton straddles the stylistic lines in a lot of her work, gaining ground as a folky singer-songwriter with touches of world music while also seemingly at home in the world of electronica. This could have something to do with her early work with William Orbit on his Strange Cargo III album which established her as an effective ambient vocal presence. She’s adopted a similar tone for her own records, while also expanding her skills as a songwriter.
And the result is a great balance of the best of both worlds. Her debut album Trailer Park, and the single “She Cries Your Name” rightly established her as a singular talent, and an up and coming singer-songwriter by the mid-90s, a particularly welcome musical presence as something of a soothing “comedown” for dawn-greeting ravers after evenings of glowsticks and E.
This track is one of the most striking things she’s ever done, with lots of erotic imagery that never crosses the line into the world of the crass. The remix makes the song a bit more celebratory, and I actually prefer it to the original, as good as the original is. And I love her voice – very understated, and unique in how down to earth it is, almost like a missing connection between the voices of Sinéad O’ Connor and Sandy Denny. There is something very warm about Beth Orton’s voice that kind of draws you in. It sounds like the voice of someone you know, a good and reliable friend.
For more music and information, check out Beth Orton’s MySpace page.
And for further insights, read this interview with Beth Orton from Britain’s The Independent.