Beth Orton is a talented young woman from England who's been making music at a breakneck pace for the last five years. Following her acclaimed 1996 American debut, "Trailer Park," Orton presents us with "Central Reservation," a bittersweet collection of British folk-pop highlighting her evocative voice and a most pensive introspection.
Orton made a name for herself singing with electronic artists, including the Chemical Brothers, but her own projects reflect a more acoustic-based sensibility. With help from accomplished musicians such as Ben Harper and Everything But the Girl's Ben Watt, she has crafted an extremely compelling album. Framing her lilting voice with ornate folk-rock accouterment, Orton indulges in vague metaphysical musings in the songs "Stars Seem to Weep," "Blood Red River" and "Sweetest Decline." On the centerpiece, "Pass in Time," Orton explores the guilt and relief she felt following her mother's death. With an uptempo, electronic remix of the song "Central Reservation" closing the disc, Orton leaves her future open to myriad musical possibilities.