Central Reservation is Beth Orton’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Trailer Park . This album jumps right out of the gate with the first single, “Stolen Car.” Guest guitarist Ben Harper breathes fire into this song with his unique and intense playing style. Throughout the album, Orton does not stray far from the format of her debut; string-based acoustic folk music injected with intermittent electronic percussion. “Stars All Seem to Weep” and the Ben Watt mix of “Central Reservation” promote plenty of head-bobbing and toe-tapping. Orton’s buttery, British voice is the cornerstone of this album, especially on “Blood Red River.” It is so beautiful and spacious, it creates a feeling of listening to it under the stars at an outdoor venue. Central Reservation is consistently strong all the way through, and demonstrates that Beth Orton is continuing to mature as a singer and songwriter.
Arista Records, 6 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019-3913; http://www.arista.com