Beth Orton, "Kidsticks" (Anti/Epitaph)
Beth Orton's sixth album, "Kidsticks," amalgamates electronic sounds with profuse references to nature, counterparts evenly matched in the intriguing mix.
With assistance from producer, co-writer and fellow Brit Andrew Hung, "Kidsticks" finds Orton following an experimental route, with nods to the likes of Talking Heads, Kraftwerk and Everything But The Girl.
Orton has been melding electronics with folksy vibes — "folktronica" — throughout her career. On "Kidsticks," the loops and synthesizers take precedence but the lyrics anchored to the environment and interstellar occurrences provide a beguiling contrast, the flower petals strewn around the spaceship.
The song titles are concise — "Snow," ''Moon," ''Wave," ''Dawnstar," ''Falling" — but the emotions are intense. "I was crying out for you before I ever knew you ... Breathe me in," Orton pleads on "Wave," while sounding prematurely aged on "Falling," where her "phone book is filling up with dead friends."
Of the danceable tracks, "1973" is catchy, like Lene Lovich singing with Yazoo, and "Moon" takes its time to accelerate in low gear to a propulsive beat.
The racket in "Petals" drowns a lovely melody and "Corduroy Legs" is spoken-word hodge-podge, two of the few missteps.
The slight, instrumental title track closing "Kidsticks" has a music box melody, inviting you to wind it up and play the album again.