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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Central Reservation

Beth Orton

1999

Central Reservation
Album Summary

Central Reservation is the second studio album by English singer-songwriter Beth Orton, released on 9 March 1999. The album featured contributions from folk musician Terry Callier (with whom she also recorded the b-side "Lean on Me"), Dr. Robert and Ben Harper. Several tracks were also produced by Ben Watt of Everything but the Girl. Central Reservation received critical acclaim and garnered Orton a second Mercury Music Prize nomination, and won her Best British Female at the 2000 BRIT Music Awards.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.05

Votes

9583
Genres
Folk
Pop
Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Tue Oct 27 2020
5

At the expense of noodling, this album is exceptional, especially considering I've never heard of the artist let alone the album. Throughout the album we get a series of emotionally charged tracks with generally gentle and simple arrangements. Orton's voice is gentle and breezy, but on occasion tastes metallic due to the heaviness and tumultuousness of some of the lyrics. Examples would include some of the last few songs on the album, which are in spite of being on an album with no bad songs, probably my favourite part of the record. The album is generally described as a ''folktronica'' work, but I really didn't see a lot of that. With the exception of a few songs like Stars All Seem To Weep and the last track of the album, which is basically the title track remixed. The overarching genre here is folk and to an extent alternative folk. Most songs on the release are longer than 5 minutes, but they all just seem to breeze by since another one the album's major features is its sheer diversity in scope and structure of the songs at hand. You never feel like a song has been rehashed (last track aside) or repeated. The arrangements are always simple but more is less here. Undeniably one of the most underrated singer/songwriter albums of the 90s. In a world of musicians and singers like Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Sinead O'Connor, Tori Amos and PJ Harvey, this gem seemed to have slipped under the radar. Let's change that. 10/10

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Fri Aug 12 2022
2

British folktronica, huh? You know, on paper, I should have disliked this, but I didn't. I didn't really LIKE it either. I just... experienced it. It would be very hard to hate this album. It's just so inoffensive. But that's, to some degree, why it's hard to love it too. It has no sharp edges, pushes no boundaries, and doesn't ask anything of the listener. It just... exists quietly in the corner out of everyone's way. Every track lingers just a little too long and Beth spends just a little too much time singing wordless nothings for no reason. Her voice is excellent. I just wish she was singing something interesting.

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Mon Apr 04 2022
4

This album feels like going out for the day with your mom for a day when you are 7, and while you've long since forgotten what you did, you remember what it felt like. Being softly cradled and warmed by some soft and immutable force that you'll never be able to articulate, but one we've all felt. Beautiful use of Orton's soft, slight and occasionally wailing voice. The arrangements are never dense, but soft and ones that lull and lightly pull you to keep listening. Like soft pirouettes in a slowly dying house. Beth Orton gives us rest in the quiet in-betweens of life. These simple memories that we are forgetting, but somehow it feels comforting to do so. Childhood ended, we've moved on, but that deep yearning never will. (7/10, may end up as an 8 if I keep listening)

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Sun Apr 30 2023
2

If the color beige was an album.

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Mon May 31 2021
2

Another album that I can't even remember listening to. Dull.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
5

Unnnngh big nostalgia bump for this album - takes me straight back to uni. I think I'd still give it 5 stars even without the familiarity, but who can say? Fave track - "Stolen Car" - such a fantastic album opener. The title track is great too...

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Fri Apr 09 2021
3

Can see why it was called Modern Sounds, the big band feel, makes it bright, sharp and punchy. None of these tracks sound like Country and Western songs, so I'm assuming they are standards/classics in C&W which makes Charles reinterpretation of them so striking, he's placing a big band aesthetic over them, making them feel new and impactful. Charles has great phrasing, he can stretch and hold a note so well. Not many words in some of the lyrics, but he lets them float over the music. He also hold and bend notes so well, to fit to fill the phrasing and tempo of each song. More a fan of the uptempo numbers, but the slower ones show off the versatility of Ray’s voice/tone.

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Wed Feb 08 2023
5

Extremely soft, it's rich with smooth and nice melodies. Most songs take their time but almost all of them reward with substantial dividends. There's an icy, mournful and timeless quality to Orton's voice, particularly when the tracks are more natural sounding. I don't think there was a weak moment, save for my opinion of the ending of "Devil Song" being slightly unfulfilling. Beth fits my tastes, and I blame my ignorance for letting her early efforts pass me by.

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Tue Jul 20 2021
4

Beth Orton once described Van's Astral Weeks as album 'that has been willed into being' which I thought was a lovely turn of phrase. She draws upon a similiar poetic sensibility to deliver this fantastic album (Sweetest Decline is a song straight out of the Van playbook)

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Thu Jul 21 2022
4

Beth Orton nouus offre un superbe album qui fait du bien après la daube country offerte par Emmylou juste avant. Il est bon de rapeller que tout cela n'aurait pu arriver sans l'intervention de ce bon vieux William Orbit. Ce dernier a en effet vite abandonné la musique après son exécrable album entrevu il y a quelques mois de cela, pour se reconvertir dans la contrebande de cigarettes. A cette occasion, il rencontrera une Beth Orton des plus dévergondée dans une soirée de bas-étage londonienne, et finira par la lancer dans la musique. Le succès ne vint pas immédiatement pour Beth, les productions techno d'Orbit venant ruiner sa superbe voix, mais après quelques années et une séparation des plus attendues, Beth pu nous offrir ce superbe album non entâchée de la présence du parasite Orbit.

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Thu Feb 01 2024
4

Lovely voice. It feels very contemplative and peaceful.

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Thu Feb 01 2024
4

A real nostalgia listen - I love Central Reservation

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Thu Feb 01 2024
4

What a voice, what a singer, what a record. And what a concept – break her out of full trip-hop constraints and watch the music soar in charming and humane directions. The light-touch production throughout is a major plus, allowing the mix of acoustic instruments and electronica/chill touches its full effect. The upbeat songs are playful, even frolicsome, and the ballads fully affecting and almost touching at times. "Sweetest Decline" is perfectly lovely, both title cuts are richly melancholic and "Pass In Time" utterly inspirational. The album lags late, it must be admitted but the peaks are too good for the overall effect to be much diminished. One admits a deep engagement with this and her other early records upon their release and during a particularly meaningful (certainly changeful) and mostly happy time of one's life – maybe even the best and most meaningful. That counts of course, but the music retains nearly all its warmth and many merits. Few artists had a better run than Beth O during those millennial-straddling years and her record of just a year or two ago suggest her ongoing power.

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Mon Feb 05 2024
4

some songs were misses for me but the ones I liked, I really liked!!! will be revisiting this album in the future, it might grow more on me. stars all seem to weep is my favorite!!!

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Fri Feb 16 2024
4

I really love Beth Orton's voice and delivery. Stolen Car is an absolutely amazing song, her voice carries a great melancholy and passion. Central Reservation and Stars All Seem to Weep really stand out as well. Much of the rest does have a samey feel, but the vibe is great.

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Sat Jul 10 2021
3

Beth Orton creates a very playful, warm, delicate and pleasant sounding record with Central Reservation. The production is stellar, the lyrics are touching and Beth's voice is incredible. If there are things to criticise, it has to do with the editing process, non-lexical vocals, and very sparingly, a lack of energy or focus. Some tracks went on for too long. This was especially noticible on So Much More and Pass In Time, with the last two minutes dragging on and introducing nothing new. While most of the record is extremely well produced, Feel To Believe is not up to standard. Lastly, I am not a great fan of the jazzy "la la la" or "da da da", as they are the greatest reason for some tracks not elevating themselves to more than being background, chamber pop. Bonus points for the futuristic elements on Stars All Seem To Weep, which reminds me of Portishead's best. A solid 3/5, just shy of reaching 4/5.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
3

This was interesting. I wasn't really feeling it for the most part until I took a nap in the corner of an empty classroom in between classes, and then it hit different. Do with that information what you will.

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Wed Feb 07 2024
3

So glad I got this recommendation today firstly because it’s a good album but also I’ve had a run of sub-par music from female artists on here and was feeling sexist. Bad bits: sometimes veers off into quite poor trip-hop production, and that near-shout middle part of her voice wears a bit after a while. That’s it though, the rest l like a lot. It definitely wanders as an album, and in this case I like that, it meanders gently. When singing softly her voice is beautiful and in few places she stretches her vocals quite powerfully. Most of the songs are thoughtful and atmospheric and in “Pass in time” really quite moving.

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Wed Feb 17 2021
2

Solid mildly pleasant folk pop. 5/10

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Mon May 17 2021
5

This Lilith fair headliner is my favorite.

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Mon May 03 2021
5

Really liked this - need to listen again

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Mon Apr 19 2021
5

Das ist das perfekte Album um ein einem Anruf das nicht regnet den Tag bei ein paar Sachen spazieren zu gehen melancholisch und doch optimistisch. Kurz gesagt einfach gut ich überlege fünf Sterne zu geben. Inkl. Bonus für die Überraschung

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Fri Nov 05 2021
5

really beautiful, great songwriting too!

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Fri May 06 2022
5

I fell for Beth Orton the first time I heard She Cries Your Name in '96. Seen her live so many times, Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury '97, Union Chapel, Shepherds Bush Empire, an upstairs room in some random London pub, some venue near Southbank with Johnny Marr on guitar that was cut short when some wanker set off the fire alarm, and a church in Auckland. She never disappoints. All hail the Queen of Comedown!

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Fri Aug 05 2022
5

I listened to it twice, then I let it roll on the background for a while to keep me company.

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Fri Sep 16 2022
5

Great album, I really enjoyed this. My first listen was at the beginning of the day and it was nice to drift in and out of sleep with. The second listen was just as good, but awake.

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Wed Oct 26 2022
5

This album is gorgeous. Beth Orton’s voice is incredibly versatile and can break through anything making the listener hang onto every word. She is known as a folktronica artist, but I found this album to be solidly in the folk category except for a few songs on the back half of the album. I can see how this influences later artists in the 2000s and 2010s when folktronica really came into its own.

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Mon Feb 27 2023
5

Lost touch with Beth Orton after her early success but on this record I should have stuck with her. Really enjoyable, thoughtful and tuneful stuff. Best song Stolen Car.

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Wed Apr 19 2023
5

Lilith Fair-core. I don’t say that disparagingly. I first encountered Beth Orton when she replaced Liz Phair as the support on Alanis Morrisette’s recent world tour which I found a huge disappointment. I now put that down to her not being an artist well suited to massive venues. This album is a masterpiece. Listened to it walking through Glasgow Green and noticing the trees were all finally coming back. Pure bliss.

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Thu May 04 2023
5

Thank you random number generator for steering away from the hateful gangster rap I'm still trying to forget and providing this welcome change of pace. I was immediately in love with that opening track, and then it was mostly songs to love and a few to like unfolding before me. What a lovely, jazzy way to spend the afternoon.

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Thu May 04 2023
5

I found this album to be an absolute delight. Gorgeous. Now, on the first listen there was a window of two or three tracks that started to drag on me just a little...I think it seemed like too much melancholy or something. On the second and third listen, I didn't have the same reaction, so I guess it was my changing mood.

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Thu May 11 2023
5

completely new artist to me, and a real revelation. i love the folk-electronic anachronism of the whole thing, and combined with a lovely singing tone and really beautifully bleak lyrics, this was just great.

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Fri May 26 2023
5

Beautiful vocals - missed most of the lyrics and definitely a second listen required. Great mix of electronic/folk in the first half of the album, then dropping down to just simple guitar and vocals.

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Mon Sep 11 2023
5

This one was a big surprise, since I never heard of this artists before. Definitely listening to the whole thing again.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
5

This is just such a gorgeous thing. Even today, almost 25 years since I first heard it, 'Sweetest Decline' and 'Central Reservation' can still send shivers down my back and move me to tears

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

This really surprised me. It's not my normal fare, but I found myself captivated. Best new discovery so far, just over 200 albums in!

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Wed Dec 06 2023
5

Really liked this. Never heard of her before, will listen to more.

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Mon Jan 15 2024
5

Really good album. Reminded me a little of Sharon Van Etten. Would listen to again.

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Sun Jan 28 2024
5

Excellent album for the morning or relaxing. 1/27/24

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Mon Feb 19 2024
5

This has been a special album to me since my first listen. The haunting sounds simply captivate me on all levels. A true classic.

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Wed Feb 21 2024
5

Strong opening track, this is my kind of music

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Fri Jan 29 2021
4

I am very pleasantly surprised by this!

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

1999: Stolen Car, Couldn't Cause Me Harm, Feel To Believe

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

I really liked it. Early folktronica has a bit of nostalgia feel to it, and the songwriting itself was quite good.

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Sun May 23 2021
4

It might not be fair to Beth to say that she sounds exactly like Natalie Merchant, but...she does. There are plenty of great tracks on this record, and the standout is a song where she grieves her dead mother. Powerful stuff. Best track: Pass In Time

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Sun Dec 06 2020
4

I loved her voice, I loved the production this was very good 8,8/10

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Sun May 16 2021
4

Tell you what was the bomb. This album. Beautiful voice and the production sounds really familiar, like the cranberries. Or that tune 'I can't breathe until ur ass is here with me, I can't hide.' u know on love actually soundtrack is that her, fuck?

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Thu Feb 25 2021
4

She's got a great voice over some semi-ambient electronica/trip-hop beats. Very "lo-fi hip hop to relax/study to" vibes.

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Mon May 03 2021
4

Perfect glass of wine and a bath album. Or, a comedown album back in the day.

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Fri Mar 26 2021
4

Ik kan dit waarderen; het is tijdloos, prettig om naar te luisteren en het werd sowieso weer eens tijd voor een vrouwenstem tussen al dat mannengeweld.

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Wed Feb 10 2021
4

Zeemzoet zweven zonder zorgen

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Wed Feb 10 2021
4

Quite easy listening, sounds good for a lazy morning with a coffee. Can imagine this playing in a coffee place too. Quite like the voice of Orton.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Really enjoyed this album. Great voice.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

I didn't listen to this when it came out - I was too busy listening to Portishead. But it's very good.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

I love this album and the following one Daybreaker. I didn't keep up with her output and for no good reason. I must try harder. Favourite Track : Couldn't cause me harm.

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Mon May 17 2021
4

Lovely singer-songwriter album

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Tue May 11 2021
4

Folk and electronic- England

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Tue May 25 2021
4

really solid listen. enjoyable.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
4

Really fantastic, lovely mix of folk and electronica.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
4

Very nice 90s and folk aesthetic.

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Sat Jul 31 2021
4

LOL. Y que hago la reseña de Soul Mining... Muy chido, me gustó bastante el bajo en Sinking Feeling, las cuerdas en Twighlight Hour y Giant es todo un viajesote. Un poco de todo, medio synth, medio dark, medio postpunk.

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Fri Aug 06 2021
4

Definitely a re-listen this one for the chill afternoons. Was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. Its only 4 stars since there is some filler towards the end.

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Wed Sep 29 2021
4

Wow, she's fantastic! This is a solid album. Had not heard of her or heard any of her music before. I like her style, her writing, and her voice. Great songwriting, too. She shows some real range of expression on this album. Very cool.

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Thu Oct 14 2021
4

4 out of 5, but an unsteady one - from obvious gems to some mediocre proto-hipster-bullshit. But a release with Love Like Laughter, Stolen Car and Couldn't Cause Me Harm on it cannot be bad in any case.

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Thu Oct 14 2021
4

Beth Orton doing what Beth Orton does. Polished folk pop.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

This is a generous 4, because although I didn’t enjoy this an awful lot on first listen, it definitely has potential to be a grower!

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Fri Nov 05 2021
4

De va många bra å många decent

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Beautiful voice and nice, chill-out music.

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Fri Jan 07 2022
4

schöne und warme Stimme, diese ruhigen Songs gefallen mir gut. Die Sängerin kannte ich bis jetzt nicht, aber das ist ein so ein Album, dass man in ruhigen Stunden gerne immer wieder hört.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Kind of moody and dark and low key in an interesting way. Liked it more than I expected.

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Thu Feb 17 2022
4

Znam da će mi Sweetest Decline, Central Reservation i Love Like Laughter biti na repeatu. Tako divne melodije, melankolične, a neke ću već kao i ove koristiti za jesensku plejlistu :3

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Thu Feb 17 2022
4

Zasto folktronica tako dobro izaziva nostalgiju

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Fri Mar 04 2022
4

Radiohead snuck into a singer songwriter

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Fri Apr 01 2022
4

This is splendid. Beth Orton has a lovely voice, with just a hint of a Joni Mitchell vibe. Perusing the personnel, Orton has assembled a nice group of really talented supporting performers, including Dr. John, Benn Watt and Ben Harper. Will definitely come back to this. Fave Songs: Pass in Time, Central Reservation, Feel To Believe, Blood Red River, Sweetest Decline, Stolen Car

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Fri Apr 08 2022
4

This is one of those albums that I want to listen to while on my porch and watching the rain. Nice coffee and a smoke type vibes.

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Sun Apr 10 2022
4

I went through a big Beth Orton phase 25 years ago or so, listening to this album and the compilation album Pass in Time over and over again. Her voice is the first thing that grabbed me - there's just something so unique and emotional about it. The music and songs are also amazing. Strange that I never delved further into her catalog than those two albums, but this is a good reminder to do so. I'll be listening to Beth all day today at least. 4 stars.

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Sun Jun 19 2022
4

A wonderful album that started to lose me towards the end. At the front, however, it was a great mix of vocals, instrumentals, and production. Everything felt very understated and it allowed her voice, which is the real selling point of the album, to shine through.

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