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splendid > reviews > 9/1/2003
Beth Orton
Beth Orton
The Other Side of Daybreak
Astralwerks


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Bobby Gentry"

Buy me now
I'll never forget how much of a letdown this Brit techno-folkie's long awaited but rather snooze inducing third album Daybreaker was, so I proceeded with caution over this typically random assortment of rarities, leftovers, and remixes culled from that album's sessions and singles. Having absorbed it, I wouldn't go as far to call the result revelatory, but it's certainly a lot more wide-ranging and engaging than its predecessor.

The five remixes here are generally okay, with Four Tet's roots-tronica versions of "Daybreaker" and "Carmella" the best of the bunch. It's the other five mostly acoustic tracks, however, that demand your attention. Both the eloquent, stripped-down "Ali's Waltz" (which harkens back to the urgency and intimacy of Central Reservation) and the searing "Bobby Gentry", with its "Within You Without You" strings and guttural, commanding vocal, could have juiced up Daybreaker considerably. A sparse, creaky cover of "Ooh Child" sounds a little drained in comparison, but "Beautiful World" has a bluesy, dusky edge, and a live guitar-and-voice rendition of "Concrete Sky" (sans Ryan Adams) is one of Orton's loveliest recordings to date.

This compilation is a hodgepodge, to be sure, but it's enough to restore hope that Orton is still capable of making music that stands up to her earlier, riskier, genre-defying work.



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