The almost nauseatingly laudatory press release accompanying Beth Orton’s fourth full-length, Comfort of Strangers, posits a theory I hadn’t considered in some time: some artists create their masterpieces on the first try and other artists take time, grow and fashion their most memorable works much further along. It’s a theory that certainly holds true when considering the sterling singer-songwriter efforts already given us by 2006: Cat Power’s undeniable The Greatest, Liz Durrett’s The Mezzanine, and now, Orton’s latest long-player, coming nearly a decade after her superb debut Trailer Park. A literary songstress whose works are folk flecked with trace elements of trip-hop, Comfort of Strangers finds the incisive Orton paired with producer Jim O’Rourke to great effect. The pair pounded out Comfort of Strangers in two weeks at New York’s Sear Sound studio, with help with M. Ward, Tim Barnes, and Rob Burger; eschewing multiple takes, digital recording techniques, and working toward an “in-the-moment” vibe, Orton and her producer wrought 14 playful and poignant vignettes, charged with emotion and stripped of gloss. The sentimental, pained title track is an exquisite sketch of a wounded heart while “Shadow Of A Doubt” haunts with its stark simplicity. Orton’s assured hand throughout marks Comfort of Strangers as a sturdy piece of songwriting that will stand among the more memorable albums of 2006 come year’s end.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: