Album #23: Beth Orton – Trailer Park

  • Released: 1996
  • Origin: Norfolk, England
  • Label: Heavenly
  • Best Track: Someone’s Daughter

I’ve no idea why I’ve never listened to this album. I love Beth Orton’s folky voice, and the single ‘Someone’s Daughter’ is one for any playlist even at a period as rich in indie/alternative music as the mid-’90s, but I’ve not heard much from her at all in truth. I remember her lending vocals to a couple of Chemical Brothers tracks around the same time, but other than that she bypassed me at the time and I haven’t caught up with her since.

Immediately, what surprised me with this album (and I’m showing my ignorance straightaway) is how much electronic influence there is. She’s one of the first artists to have been labellled ‘folktronica’ so I don’t know what I expected, but having mainly heard fairly poppy, acoustic material from her in the past, it caught me a little off guard. It made me think of Dido in parts, albeit not as bland!

That’s why the track I liked the best at first was the closest thing to ‘Someone’s Daughter’, which is ‘Live As You Dream’. Gradually though, I’ve started to appreciate the album more from start to finish, not least the Massive Attack-esque trip-hop elements of ‘Tangent’ and ‘Galaxy of Emptiness’. A likeable cover of Phil Spector’s ‘I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine’ is the closest the album comes to serving up anything melancholy, while ‘Sugar Boy’ somehow make me think of the Stone Roses. I don’t know if it’s just the similarity of the title to ‘Sugar Spun Sister’, but I can imagine Ian Brown singing this, albeit changing ‘boy’ to ‘girl’.

The songs are generally breezy and fairly simple, allowing the coolness and fragility of Orton’s voice to do the rest. It’s a grower, that’s for sure. I thought it lacked a bit of oomph at first but after three or four listens, I’m really warming to tracks I didn’t care for at first. It’s perhaps not the best complement to the eternal British January, but once the sun comes out, this will be the perfect accompaniment.

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