BETH ORTON Daybreaker (Heavenly/EMI) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
With Trailer Park, Beth Orton defined an electro-folkie sound that was so fresh it sparked. Her latest effort has a warmer, more organic vibe that's closest to her stunning Best Bit collaboration with Terry Callier than to anything else Orton's done. It's still lovely, but it's lost that novel sizzle, moving into more conventional folkie territory. Maybe it's the bland influence of Whiskeytown's Ryan Adams, who contributes vocals, guitar tracks and the song This One's Gonna Bruise. Daybreaker picks up steam in the second half and has moments that rip right into your heart. The dark country twang of God Song, with Emmylou Harris adding painfully beautiful soprano harmony to Orton's alto, is one of the best songs Orton's ever written. The Latin horn shuffle of Anywhere rocks, and album closer Thinking About Tomorrow comes close to recapturing Trailer Park's brilliant originality. Still, Daybreaker doesn't quite live up to its potential. Beth Orton appears at the Phoenix Monday (August 5).