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Sugaring Season

4.7 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 2, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Beth Orton's Anti debut captures the classic hypnotic sound that won her prominence, at the same time as it shows a singer at the full maturity of her instrument, with a new soulfulness that can recall Roberta Flack or Nina Simone one moment, June Christy at the next. Sugaring Season is in many ways a culmination of Orton's art of contradictions, a full circle from that first John Martyn cover she recorded with William Orbit back in the day soulful and ambient, lush and bittersweet, starkly still and fiercely rhythmic.

Review

"Beth's masterpiece" --Mojo Magazine

"A quietly spellbinding album" --New York Times

"Folk music for those who think they're tired of folk music" --Q Magazine
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 2, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ANTI Records
  • ASIN: B008J9EYFG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,149 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Red on Black TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 3, 2012
Format: Audio CD
What is known as the Sugaring Season runs in Vermont from around March to mid-April. It is when producers all around the state collect maple sap and boil it down to the sweet sticky syrup. It is the same maple trees that lead to that stunning sweep of colour in the vibrant fall foliage. Beth Orton's new album seems to combines both events. It is very much a hymn to Autumnal and pastoral moods but combined with a lovely bruised fragility which makes this album such a real treat.

Gone is all the shimmering electronica and digital files of the dallainces with Andy Weatherall or the Chemical Brothers, indeed the template is much more in tune with her frequent collaborations with Ryan Adams. Following a lengthy hiatus to bring up her daughter this is her first album in six years that firmly sticks to the acoustic knitting and is all the better for it. In that time she built up a considerable backlog of songs and in the selections here has largely chosen wisely. Opener "Magpie" has a bluesy tint to the essential folk based melancholy. It builds to a big finish as Orton's vocals stretch and the intensity ratchets up. More gentle are the following tracks, the lifting pop of "Dawn chorus" and the almost Nick Drake sounding guitar backdrop to "Candles" where Orton's haunting vocals are at their very best. The slow piano ballad laden with violins "Something more beautiful" is an undoubted highlight and will replay repeated listens. One sour note comes in the form of the Weimar cabaret of "See Through Blue" where she tries to adopt a Dietrich style loftiness but it all feels rather contrived and breaks the flow of the album. Still it comes in under two minutes and is followed by "Last leaves of Autumn" which is one of the best things Beth Orton has ever done.
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Format: Audio CD
A lot has changed since Beth Orton's last album six years ago: she's now a wife and a mother. For all that may have changed in her life, her music is as good as it has ever been on SUGARING SEASON. Orton has all but dropped the electronic influences of her past in favor for a more mystical, roots-based brand of trippy instrumentation. The production here works wonderfully, sometimes feeling loose and relaxed, at others tense and slightly paranoid; each song is able to create a nice landscape for Orton to wander in. Songs range from the childlike "See Through Blue," the melancholy and jazzy "Something More Beautiful," the skittering and beautiful "Dawn Chorus," and the elegaic closing track "State of Grace." What shines here though, is Orton's voice. Simultaneously captivating, soulful, and trancelike, her vocals fill up every song to the brim.

The closest point of comparison I can think of is Cat Power (circa her release of THE GREATEST). The weakest point of this album is that it starts off so strongly - the second half of the album doesn't quite live up to the first; it's not as adventurous or experimental, suggesting that Orton is best when she's pushing herself creatively. Essential tracks to sample/download: "Magpie," "Dawn Chorus," and "Candles." This is a great autumn/winter record - one that you can lose yourself in for a while.
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The songs on this album are different from most of her earlier work, with alternate tunings and different vocal registers on some of the songs. And there's no electronica here. You won't get as many catchy, "pop" songs, but you will get more mature songs. This is as good as anything else she's done, but in a different way.
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A far cry from her Central Reservation CD, i know the hard core fans still love it and excuse me for not loving it but the songs are not as catchy or arranged as well as "Central.". Her voice is still PERFECT and the writing is still very , very professional and the recording production very top notch but I am the type to like the catchy songs. She's a wonderful songwriter and has the voice of an angel. Good CD ,hope it grows on me as I keep listening.
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I love Beth Orton, yes, I love her music. I own her previous five albums, shoot I even bought Pass In Time the remix album, and enjoyed that. Six years without a new album by Beth Orton is a long time. Oh, I'm so sad to say I don't love Sugaring Season. Overall it is a good album; there are moments of brilliance, Magpie, Dawn Chorus, Candles, and Poison Tree. There are two tracks that sound like fingers on a chalkboard to me, Something More Beautiful and See Through Blue. The remaining four tracks are good.

The four tracks I loved are more like classic Beth Orton, her beautiful mid range voice with just the right amount of music. By the time the album gets to See Through Blue, Orton is channeling Edith Piaf and happy go lucky turn of the century music. Something More Beautiful has two crescendos of orchestral music that has an irritating dissonance with her voice. It should sound like passion rising, instead it is painful.

The recording is nice, clear with excellent range. Unfortunately some of the songs just added too much orchestra or needless instruments. I love Beth Orton's voice and I think she sounds best with an acoustic guitar or piano. All the other production is just extra fill that I don't think she needs. The album does close with a beautiful sparse song, Mystery.

Four brilliant tracks, four good ones, and two stinkers make for a mediocre album, even if I love Beth Orton. Six years to wait for this was too long.
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