She may be as elfin-like as they come but with her new album, Daybreaker, BETH ORTON proves again she is a songwriter of colossal stature. Words: Paul Dale

o say Beth Orton is not one of nature‘s born interviewees is something of an understatement. Her answers tend to be short. that faint .\'orfolk squeak heaving out of the silence only to fall away seconds later. For those that love her however (that’s both physically and musically) she‘s that fantastic mix of Sandy Denny's folk- sluttiness. Joni Mitchell's tender poise and Rikki Lee Jones' perky street skipping-rope jumper. As far as its

fans are concerned she could stick pins under our

fingernails and sing us the best of Huey Lewis and the News for an hour and we would still find something good to say about her.

Beth Orton first entered the public‘s consciousness with the release of an album that Bruce Springsteen claims to be his favourite of the last ten years: Trailer Park. A record that had actually been preceded by some great collalmrative work with

William Orbit. Red Snapper. Primal Scream and. of

course. the Chemical Brothers. ()rton was a rare find. everyone knew that an

angel with the mice of an angel -- but her

canonisation really came in 1998 when the truly great. too oft-overlooked (‘hicago folk-soul legend Terry (‘allier came out of semi-retirement to record two tunes for her Best Iii! lil’. In one move she became the coolest kid on the block who had given tis back some of that sweet-lipped 'psychedelic folk soul’ (her phrase).

Another album. ('enlm/ Reservation. followed. then some soundtrack and collaborative work and in late July this year her remarkable new albutn Day/m'uker featuring the likes of Johnny Matt and Ryan Adams. ‘lt was my easy third album as opposed to my difficult second it was just a really good and focused experience and when the collaborations came along that was also really lovely. From beginning it was great.’

She obviously wants to talk about the album and not the light on the Norfolk lens at this time of year. so I ask her about one of the album’s highlights ‘(iod‘s Song’. a duet with limmylou Harris.

‘I sang with her about four years ago. she was doing the same tour as the in America. On the first day she came up and introduced herself and on the last day of the tour I gave her a necklace just to say it was nice to meet her. A few months later I went to see her playing over here and she was wearing the necklace. she didn't know I was coming or anything. I had a demo of ’(lod‘s Song' in my pocket. I was gonna play it to her and ask her what she thought and then I thought that this was an omen. and I had to ask her to do the song. she did and it was great.‘

()rton is a kook. but she‘s also a brilliant performer her second favourite ‘thing’ after writing she informs me and will be premiering material from I)(i\'/n'eukei' on this tour. so you‘d be a fool to miss her. if only to work out the generic truth of one of her final statements to me: "I‘he blueprint for this album when I started was l’uris. 7i’.\’(l.\' by Ry (‘ooder and the soundtrack to Blade Runner by Vangelis.‘ She giggles like a fruitcake. Is she having a laugh‘.’ \Vas Jan Hammer and his Beverley Hills (‘op ()rchestra an influence as well'.’ Who cares'.’ lt's Beth Orton and [just want her to be my girlfriend. She clearly has other plans as she rushes to get off the phone.

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 14 Oct.


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