Beth Orton - Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, Tue 9 Apr 2013 (4 stars)

The ever-pegged queen of British folk is affably personable at this reasonably intimate show

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Beth Orton - Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, Tue 9 Apr

Given the hype around Beth Orton’s sixth and latest release Sugaring Season you might expect the ever-pegged queen of British folk to be flush with confidence. Instead she’s sheepish, funny and affably personable; drinking herbal tea, pulling her jeans up and making quips like, 'I might add a new verse … about the light of your iPod', during a cumulative serenade of ‘It’s Not the Spotlight’.

Orton’s unmistakable vocal reigns, it soars and traverses emotions; sorrowful and mature then high, light and jubilant. Her band, talented musicians and friends, come and go as required adding some exquisite instrumental touches.

Minus a flicker off-stage, the show lasted a sizeable hour and an half, and included ‘Call Me the Breeze’, ‘Dawn Chorus’ and the William Blake-inspired ‘The Poison Tree’ amongst her refreshing new material. For longtime fans, ‘Galaxy of Emptiness’, a searing version of ‘Paris Train’ and the bittersweet ‘Shopping Trolley’ were still relevant additions. Moments to note included a fitting homage to collaborator the late Bert Jansch, the Anne Briggs-inspired ‘Shadow of a doubt’, and the gorgeous solo piano track ‘Last Leaves of Autumn’.

Taking the fruits of folk traditions, Orton’s songs - old and new - glimmer with heartfelt beauty and lyrical poignancy, in a world of cluttered and confused genres they can only flourish.

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