Home Read Classic Album Review: Beth Orton | Daybreaker

Classic Album Review: Beth Orton | Daybreaker

The singer-songwriter's third album signals the start of a new day in her career.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


You might have expected Beth Orton to opt for more of a sunset-oriented title for her third album.

After all, the late-night tones and dusky shades the U.K. trip-folk songbird tends to favour in her lush, downbeat soundscapes have always been more geared to dusk than dawn. The 32-year-old siren’s long night of the soul continues on Daybreaker, a collection of luminous ballads that is Orton’s most subtle, sombre and withdrawn work yet. And her most organic. Much of the time here, Orton discards the techno trappings that factored so heavily in her earlier work, preffering to wrap her plaintive, muted-trumpet voice in a natural blanket of acoustic guitars, rich strings, romantic horns and laid-back live drums. Alt-country hero Ryan Adams and grievous roots angel Emmylou Harris drop by to help her pack, while The Chemical Brothers and Ben Watt stop in to spin a few tracks just for old times’ sake. Caught between the glow of the candle and the shimmer of the glitter ball, adding wafts of incense to the chilly dry ice of her past, Daybreaker finds Orton inching out of the chillout room toward the singer-songwriter lounge. If it’s truly darkest before the dawn, Daybreaker signals the start of a new day in Orton’s artistic career.