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on January 2, 2004
Amazing. The first time I heard this album, it was like a cliche you might see in a movie. An incredibly long, lonely drive down a deserted two lane highway from Albuquerque, NM to Durango, CO. Moonless night, clear sky, hundreds of miles from any major light source, I was listening to this album, looking at the night sky. This album sunk its teeth in, a haunting, bittersweet group of songs perfect for reflection, comptemplation. This album succeedes on so many different levels to become, in this humble reviewer's opinion, an instant, timeless classic.
Listen to the emotional/thematic changes between 'Stolen Car' and 'Sweetest Decline'. The stunning, shimmering, phenomenal 'Pass in Time'. The duo between her and Terry Callier has made it into the ist of my favorite songs - people hear this one and ask me 'Who IS this? WHAT album is this?' Any album that elicits such an emotional, immediate response from so many different people MUST be doing something right.
Buy this album, you will NOT be disappointed.
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on July 14, 2000
This is by far my favorite album of all time. Beth Orton somehow topped herself after the stunning "Trailer Park" and the great EP "Best Bit". I bought this album in September, and I can almost smell the autumn air when listen to this. This is the first album I bought by Beth Orton, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but did I! This is something I would rank with Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left" and Belle and Sebastian's "If You're Feeling Sinister". The music is more folky than "Trailer Park", but electronica fans don't fret. There are some (great) techno moments like "Stars All Seem to Weep" and Central Reservation (The Then Again Version)", but for the most part the instruments are played by people. Ben Harper guests on "Stolen Car" and the beautiful "Love Like Laughter", and Doctor John sits in on piano in the flawless "Sweetest Decline". Beth's album recieved a lot of hype and critical praise last year, and if you're skeptical on whether or not to buy the hype, DO IT! You won't, can't, be let down.
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on January 10, 2000
I recommend this album to anyone who appreciates a beautiful female voice singing colorful and thoughtful lyrics with feeling. I am a big fan of 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan, and Indigo Girls. Central Reservation is a solid collection of thought and mood provoking songs. Recommended activities while listening to Central Reservation: Light a few candles and have a friend over for dinner or coffee, sit on your back porch and look out at the stars while having a beer, take an introspective drive through the countryside. I hope this was helpful and gives you a feel for this recording.
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on July 1, 1999
I've been a Beth Orton fan since I first carried Trailer Park home in my eager little hands and listened to it during a thunderstorm in July of 1997. Alright, so I'm a tad bit biased. However, I cannot restrain myself from proclaiming that Central Reservation is an incredible record. The others are right when they say that it grows on you - most of the songs are not "catchy" the way a lot of radio music is nowadays. The thing I admire most about Beth's music is the absolute honesty of her lyrics, which at times comes across as bittersweet, but is actually incredibly optimistic and proactive! There's nothing flowery about it, but its simplicity is breathtakingly beautiful, particularly on songs like "Stars All Seem to Weep" and "Blood Red River". Also, if you ever get a chance to see her in concert, do it! I saw her a few weeks ago at a small club in DC, and the guy next to me had never heard of her before - after the show I asked him what he thought and he said he was going to go straight out and buy both of her albums. She's a natural performer, and quite funny on stage - a welcome contrast to the serious quality of some of her songs! Anything by Beth is worth a listen ... or two ... or three ...
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on April 27, 2000
central reservation is another album that lifted my often cynical spirits and proved once again the validity of a true singer-songwriter. beth orton has crafted an album virtually free of any pretense and ego, but full of sincerity and beauty. Her voice says it all. There is not a corrupted note on this album. Structurally, the songs seem a bit sparse at first, but with each additional listen, the feelings and intent behind the lyrics and melodies shine through. Stolen Car, the opening track, is the most 'together' in terms of pop-song structure. A great song, and single, "Stolen Car" exemplifies beths ability to write a radio friendly song, while still maintaining a credibility often lost in this sort of song structure. All tracks on this record are beautifully recorded and mixed, particularly "The Sweetest Decline". This track gets me every time. Quite possibly the most amazing song in the last couple years, it features Dr. John on piano adding just the right touch to the simple chord progression. Every track, with the exception of two Ben Watt collaborations, are acoustic guitar based folk songs with a touch of pop, a sprinkle of rock, and a heaping mound of genius. For anyone who likes Cat Power, Ben Harper, Everything But The Girl, etc.
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on December 23, 1999
I was only a modest folk music fan before, but this album instantly became one of my three "desert island" albums (i.e. what three albums would you pick if you were stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life?). Songs such as Sweetest Decline and So Much More are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful songs I have ever heard (in fact, Sweetest Decline is THE prettiest song I have ever heard). I have not heard a better album in years. I disagree wholeheartedly with the writer who advised buying Trailer Park first and then, if you like it, buying Central Reservation. After I heard CR, I assumed that the rest of Orton's albums must be comparably stunning. On the contrary, I found all of her non-CR work rather ordinary. Buy Central Reservation first, and THEN consider listening to the other albums. How can anyone who loves music NOT like this album?
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on August 7, 2004
This cd was a pleasant surprise as the second Beth Orton cd I have been exposed to- the first was a disappointing Daybreaker cd that started off really well only to drop off in the middle and end with a dull whimper. Cenral Reservation however is a solid cd that offers an interesting selection of music from start to end. Musically creative and lyrically brilliant, this may be Orton's best cd. The highlights of the cd are Sweetest Decline (how this wasn't a huge hit is beyond me) and Pass In Time with additional vocals from Terry Callier that work perfectly even though the song is a little too long. What makes this cd work are the ample up-tempo songs well placed among the thoughtful, endearing ballads. Orton also effectively communicates each song to the listener with her earthy voice which works well with the musical composition of the cd. Overall, a high quality effort from Beth so if you like bluesy female vocalists this would be good cd to get.
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on December 7, 1999
Get ready for the grammy nominatons. I bought this album in January of 1999 and decided then that it would most likely end up being one of the best records of the year. It is now December and I still feel just as strongly. These songs are gorgeous. As my musician friend said recently - "She's the real thing". Beth Orton is a rare talent and I recommend this record to anyone who appreciates a true artist. They don't come along that often and this is surely refreshing in a time when most of what we hear is so disposable. Put this one right up there with your favorite albums of the past 30 years - it's that good.
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on June 20, 2000
Beth Orton? Hmmm. What can be said? I want to give you an idea of her sound in case you haven't heard her before...but Im at a loss...
I would say mix equil parts of Cowboy Junkies, William Blake, and the 'magic panio' records of the 1970's. Shes Magic!
When I was in Rome earlier this year they were playing 'Stolen Car' almost as much as USA mtv was playing Nsync. So, when in Rome...I picked up the Cd and havent stopped listening to it yet. Its soulful, heartfelt, smooth and raw....
If you like vocalists and are privy to folk or blues music...check this CD out... Very worthy of your time...xo
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on November 24, 1999
There is only one word to describe this album and that is "satisfying". This album might take some a second listen to fully absorb, but once absorbed the magnitude of this work comes through. She is not destined to be a one hit wonder. This is an artist who is only gaining momentum. This album is indepth, raw yet seductivly soothing and complicatedly rich. It has been in my CD player for months and that truly says something.
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