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Music Review Orton entrances at Celtic Connections

Beth Orton + Blue Rose Coda
02 ABC, Glasgow


IN TURNING over the earth of a British country tradition and nurturing “folktronica,” Beth Orton has been producing a rich musical harvest for more than three decades.


Her entrancing gig for Celtic Connections featured her latest album Kidsticks, but it was also replete with numbers from the 1990s when her distinctive sound was in its springtime. It was then that Orton recorded John Martyn covers with electronica pioneer William Orbit and produced her classic album Trailer Park.


Accompanied on guitar, bass and electronics by Grey McMurray, who, like some sorcerer's apprentice, keeps the electronic throb under careful control, Orton sings with a tentative and sometimes timid grace as glowing smoke smoulders behind. Perfect stagecraft, as it give the songs a rarer tenderness and self-reflectiveness than can be heard on her albums.


With deep roots in nature — “call me the birch, call me the bark” — Orton can turn even sunshine into a reflection of her regret, remorse, and resilience. “I wish I never saw the sunshine, then maybe I wouldn’t mind the rain.”


The same can’t be said of her support act Blue Rose Coda. Ross Wilson sings lachrymose lyrics with a swagger. “I’ve been chasing sunlight, trying to chase my cares away,” while his backing band had a tendency to drown a jazz solo in a heavy jam


Various tracks from Wilson’s new album The Water of Leith attempt to catch the beauty of the river and its walkway that wends through north Edinburgh. “The water leads me back to the shore,” he sings — funny that, because the shore is not the most interesting part of the Water of Leith. It's the place where young professionals head for a drink and the view.


With typical harmonies, big-handed piano-playing and muted trumpet, it's the musical equivalent of going out for a walk along a river and ending up in a hipster bar.

But, for all that, there's spirit and style in this young artist's tone that grabs the crowd's attention before Orton’s plaintive command puts them totally at ease.






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