"You just had a brilliant night with your friends and you listened
to the most beautiful record you've ever heard.
That is a daybreaker."
- Beth Orton

Title: Daybreaker
Artist: Beth Orton
Release Date: 29th July 2002
Record Label: Heavenly Recordings

The third (fourth, if you include the Japan only SuperPinkyMandy) studio album from Beth Orton, Daybreaker strays pretty far from the trip hop fused folk of Trailer Park and Central Reservation while still retaining the charm of Orton's wonderful voice.

Beth took a long time over Daybreaker, and roped in a lot of her friends and acquaintances to help out; William Orbit, The Chemical Brothers, Ben Watt, Johnny Marr, Emmylou Harris and, of course, Ryan Adams all appear as contributors. It is this diversity which gives the album such a different sound, but it is welcome and refreshing - that is not to say that Beth's work had in any way become staid or predictable, but the change certainly was a breath of fresh air.


1. Paris Train (Barnes/Orton) (5:46)
"A storm waiting to break, like trees standing black against the sky"

The opening track is an absolute gem - very much in the style of Beth's previous work. The sounds on this track evoke the feeling of a peaceful train ride, with a loop of railroad noises paired with the swoosh of the outside wind. The song was inspired by a friend of Beth's who loves trains and was travelling from Norway to London and going through Paris. The song began life as an aggressive attack on the way this friend was pissing Beth off, but the album version is much more floaty and upbeat than that.
2. Concrete Sky (Orton/Marr) (4:34)
"I've seen your good side but I still don't know just what it is that you might want"
Co-written by Johnny Marr of The Smiths and performed with Ryan Adams, Daybreaker's second track, Concrete Sky, is completely sublime. Superficially about the childhood fear of the sky falling down on you, Beth herself has stated - 'when I wrote it, it wasn't literal. And I think it's only this sort of year that I've realized what it was about.'
3. Mount Washington (Orton) (6:27)
"And nobody can keep you from the one you know you are"
Another very nice song, Mount Washington is dreamy and evocative in the way so many artists wish they could be and Beth manages so effortlessly. Quickly switching between different styles and washing over you before you realise it, Mount Washington doesn't feel like six and a half minutes.
4. Anywhere (Orton) (4:35)
"If I pull one brick from an endless wall, would it drown us all?"
Anywhere is a bit of an oddity. It sounds unlike anything Beth's done before but at the same time fits perfectly with everything she's done before. The second single release off the album, it's not one of my favourites, but I'm really not sure why as it seems to be a combination of everything great about Beth. Like I said, an oddity, at least for me.
5. Daybreaker (Orton) (3:55)
"Silently watching the flames and the old life disappear"
Beth had appeared on three of The Chemical Brothers albums and this was the track on which they repaid their owed favour. They do all the mixing and production work on this track and you can really hear it - It sounds very unlike a standard Beth song, much more dancefloor orientated, much stronger bass and much less in the way of guitars, violins etc. The first track I heard from the album (it was included on an NME cover CD before the release of the album), it really got me excited and remains a favourite.
6. Carmella (Orton) (3:36)
"There's something kinda funny 'bout a man making money off a blonde haired blue eyed girl"
Carmella is another strange one - I think I really don't like it at all but find myself happily singing along as the CD player spins on. There seems to be no real substance to the track at all - before you know it's started it's all over (it is the shortest track on the album, but it's not that short). Relying heavily on the quoted line's great sound, there really doesn't seem to be much else to it.
7. God Song (Orton) (5:15)
"I've watched and learnt to lead a decent life, but meanwhile I'm dying inside"
A big departure for Beth. This song has a very strong country feel, mostly due to Emmylou Harris's influence, I'm sure; she and Ryan Adams both supply backing vocals. Beth has said in interview that this track is simply a discussion on right and wrong, but seems uncertain about whether any of it is actually a reference to God.
8. This One's Gonna Bruise (Adams/Orton) (4:44)
"Did you even notice how the wind didn't change that much?"
My favourite track on the album sadly is the only track not written by Beth; when Ryan Adams originally penned this powerhouse, he called it OK, then changed it to What You Want, but it appears on Daybreaker as This One's Gonna Bruise. There is one split second piece of music that really annoys me every time I hear it, but apart from that this is an absolute masterpiece and a perfect showcase of both Beth's and Ryan's voices.
9. Ted's Waltz (Barnes/Orton) (5:41)
"And wipe out the sun from your eyes, that vicious sky"
This song is named after Ted Barnes, Beth's long-term guitarist - Beth went over to his house one evening and he told her about a girl he had met and how he was wondering if he'd ever meet her again and they started playing and the melody and lyrics came straight out and this is exactly how it appears on the album. A very slow song, Ted's Waltz leads very nicely into Thinking About Tomorrow and the end of the album.
10. Thinking About Tomorrow (Barnes/Orton/Read/Steinberg) (6:40)
"These habits are so hard to break and they're so easy to make"
This track ends the album absolutely perfectly. It winds the whole thing down and leaves you wanting more. Produced and mixed by long-term friend / collaborator William Orbit, Beth describes Thinking About Tomorrow as similar to building a house - it is a mixture of lots of different things, a riff her and Ted were playing around with, a chorus from another song and bits added by the other band members all combined to produce a fitting end to a great album.

Also the title track from the above album:

We lay on our backs in the grass
Silently watching the rain clouds move by far too fast
You said it was a night where anything could happen
But nothing was gonna last
And we're doing fine now yeah we do
We don't feel sad or bad or blue and you know
We ain't never defeated
Not broken inside all that is fine
Yeah all that is fine

We, we burn our boats each new year
Silently watching the flames and the old life disappear
We're burning new sunrise into yesterday's skies
An ashen fingerprint melts into the sea
And we're doing fine now yeah we do
We don't feel sad or bad or blue and you know
We ain't never defeated
Not broken inside all that is fine
Yeah all that is fine

And we're doing fine now yeah we do
We don't feel sad or bad or blue and you know
We ain't never defeated
Not broken inside all that is fine
Yeah all that is fine

4. Anywhere : Daybreaker : 6. Carmella


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