Personnel: Beth Orton; TJ Doherty, Tim B..
Recording information: Sear Sound Studio, New York, New York (2005).
Ten years down the road from her big-splash debut TRAILER PARK, the woman who brought a Sandy Denny-like folk-rock sensibility to electronica scales things down considerably. While the preceding DAYBREAKER had already found the British songstress moving closer to the acoustic side of the sonic divide, COMFORT OF STRANGERS makes Orton's sound homier by seemingly abandoning all ambitions for Dido-like waif-pop success in favor of intimate, personal observations. In the end, Orton's a confessional singer/songwriter of the old school, though the pounding piano and left-of-center lyrics of opening tune "Worms" sound closer to Fiona Apple than to Joni Mitchell. Orton's warm-but-reedy voice floats gorgeously through the gentle tunes, ultimately lending her songs more personality than anything since she released since her vaunted breakout.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (p.62) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Orton sounds more focused than ever, channeling drawled heartache warm come-ons and snatches of lost AM-radio hits into songs that seek out your inner lullaby."
Entertainment Weekly (p.132) - "Throughout COMFORT, her phrasing is both more precise and more playful than ever, as her voice provides texture once supplied by electronics..." -- Grade: B+
Uncut (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[H]er voice has thickened and improved....Without altering her style drastically, Orton has broadened her approach on what is her most accomplished recording to date."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With a] grit and poignancy seldom heard since the LA canyons were in their pomp."