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Wednesday, Aug 20 1997
Beth Orton
Perhaps a few words from the liner notes to Beth Orton's beautiful Trailer Park contain the key to understanding the British folkie's work: "One more thing ...," the singer/guitarist writes. "Gender is just an excuse, relationships shouldn't be an excuse, love is often an excuse, although sometimes these excuses are all we have to hold onto." Trailer Park, released last year in Europe and a few months ago in the States, is likewise full of proclamations, tentative observations, and implied sadness. The music of Orton's debut is wonderfully all over the place track by track, but the consistency of her warm, resonant vocals prevents the record from feeling scattered. Like the early 1970s Joni Mitchell, who infused Blue with echoes of the rock sound of that period, Orton, who started out singing tracks for the Chemical Brothers and ambient artist William Orbit, deftly plays with electronic sounds to give her album some contemporary currency. Although nothing on Trailer Park has the emotional complexity of Mitchell's "California," Orton's simpler love songs are touching nonetheless. And moreover, Orton actually swings on the popish "Live as You Dream" and "How Far," and occasionally comes up with an odd optimism. But that optimism confirms what Orton has been talking about all along, because if excuses are all we have to hold onto, well, then at least that's something.

-- Jeff Stark

Beth Orton plays Monday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom). PJ Olsson opens. Tickets are $7-9; call 522-0333.

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Jeff Stark


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