Song of the Day: Beth Orton – 1973

photo by Tierney Gearon

photo by Tierney Gearon

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “1973” by Beth Orton from her 2016 album, Kidsticks, on ANTI-.

Beth Orton – 1973 (MP3)

For close to two decades, Beth Orton has walked the line between folk and electronic music far more gracefully than most. Previously an actress and caterer, Orton’s music career began when she bummed a cigarette off of electronic producer William Orbit at a party, resulting in a collaboration that would lay the groundwork for her first two folktronica-leaning albums, 1996’s Trailer Park and 1999’s Central Reservation, both of which received Mercury Prize nominations. At the turn of the new millennium, Orton moved back towards a traditional folk paradigm for her next three releases, but with this year’s Kidsticks, she’s made her most electronic album to date in collaboration with Fuck Button’s Andrew Hung. With a kick-punch rhythm and a sharp guitar turn from Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. “1973” is among Orton’s most kinetic songs. Wafting around buzzing, neon synths, Orton’s voice has the same poise and confidence she’s always had, but it’s far more pointed here, edging on the verge of pop music. That’s hardly a bad thing though – “1973” (and Kidsticks as a whole) is a massive 180 from Orton’s preceding, traditional folk (but still very good) LPs, and to see her ditch her acoustic guitar for synths for the first time twenty years into her career and craft a tune that remains quintessentially Beth Orton is a total joy to hear.

Beth Orton will tour North America later this summer, including a stop at the Triple Door on June 23. Get tickets and more info on that all ages show here, keep up with Beth at her Facebook and website, and watch the video for “1973” below.

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