February 20, 2006 12:00 PM

Comfort of Strangers
REVIEWED BY CHRIS STRAUSS

ALT-POP

Fiona Apple isn’t the only Lilith Fair alum making a great comeback. After 2002’s Daybreaker failed to live up to her stellar first two albums, British singer-songwriter Beth Orton recruited Wilco producer Jim O’Rourke for her next effort. The result? her most stripped-down and accessible release to date. Bearing little trace of the electronic influences that dotted her early work, Comfort showcases Orton’s ability as an instrumentalist, featuring her on guitar, piano and harmonica. She’s joined by a string section on the first single, “Conceived,” revealing in her unmistakable voice that “some of the time the future comes right ’round to haunt me.” With audiences sure to react favorably to the curiously optimistic “Shadow of a Doubt,” the rootsy, slide-guitar-driven “Heartland Truckstop” and the Fiona-like opener “Worms,” there’s no reason for her to be frightened.

DOWNLOAD THIS:”Shadow of a Doubt”

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