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Released: 15th March 1999.

Beth Orton - Central ReservationBeth Orton is always being nominated for awards, Mercury Music prizes, Brits, anything that's going. And criminally she never wins. Always some experimental group who play their album on hosepipes or whose lyrics consist of morse code signals or who are Talvin Singh beat her. Which is a true pity.

Beth Orton is one of Britain's very best musicians today, and where her first UK album "Trailerpark" was a melancholy wonder but a little immature, "Central Reservation" gives us a grown up Beth, who seems to feel a little more at home with her music than before. "Central Reservation" is an album which if not out-and-out happy at least has an underlying optimism that tints every song.

Easily the best song is the simplistic but beautiful "Feel To Believe", which incredibly uses a demo vocal, as Beth has not been able to nail it again since. That doesn't mean that the rest of the album is inferior, though, the whole thing is a sweeping and wonderful experience.

* * * * * (Stephen Moore)

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