I’ve taken this title from a track Beth Orton did with The Chemical Brothers on their album “Come With Us“. A fine song which had the lovely Beth lending her wondrous vocals to an electronic creation that fizzed and spluttered into the next track “Denmark” which built to become a pounding, helplessly energetic and thoroughly storming tune (whose Latino infused trumpets had little to do with Denmark but what the heck, it was great fun when they kicked in). I thought about the track the other day whilst trying, for what must be the eighth or ninth time, to get into Beth’s latest album “The Comfort of Strangers” and once again not finding what I’m looking for. When Beth first appeared on the scene back in 1996 her sound was founded by the fusing of a lot of arguably disparate genres and it sounded fantastic and everyone discovered what they had been missing all their lives. The folk music blended with electronica and other studio wizardry was unexpected and profoundly exciting. At the time I was also enjoying other bands who were emerging such as Portishead and loving the metamorphosis that Everything But The Girl were going through when they abandoned their reliance on the acoustic guitar and got on with experimenting with their sound. Ten years later things are very much back to a narrower palette of sounds. Beth Orton switches labels and puts out a folk album that’s just a folk album – the songs are still well written and her voice is as lovely but the album as a whole feels flat. I doubt I’d have bought this if it were a debut and there’s certainly no room on the singles for a lively or interesting remix or collaboration; it’s almost as if she has been put on a short lead in response to the current market. Lou Rhodes formerly of Lamb records a solo album that’s stripped down and devoid of any of Andy Barlow’s electrical influences and a far cry from her work with 808 State. This year’s Mercury Music list is utterly devoid of any artists who embrace any sort of cross over sound (no Helicopter Girls; no Martina Topley-Birds) and go in favour of a no frills guitar-based feel. These days that KT Tunstall sound is where it’s at (even Dido dabbled with some interesting production on her first album!). Can anyone explain what’s brought about this distinctly regressive step??