- Personnel: Beth Orton (vocals, guitar, harmonium); Ted Barnes (acoustic, electric & slide guitars, bouzouki, mandolin); David Roback (acoustic guitar); Ben Watt (guitar, keyboards, programming, sound effects); Ben Harper, Dr. Robert (guitar); Beki Doe, Howard Gott, Ruth Gottlieb, Calina De La Mare, Lucy Wilkins, Dmitri Van Zwanenburg (violin); Robert Spriggs, Becca Ware (viola); Oliver Kraus, Sarah Wilson (cello); Sean Read (piano, keyboards); Dr. John (piano); Dave Friedman (vibraphone); Andrew Waterworth (acoustic bass); Henry Olsen, Jerry Meyhan, Ali Friend (bass); Will Blanchard (drums); Lascelles Gordon (percussion); Terry Callier (background vocals).
- Producers include: Victor Van Vugt, Dr. Robert, Mark "Spike" Stent, Beth Orton, David Roback.
- Engineers include: Victor Van Vugt, Trevor Smith, Giles Hall.
- Photographer: Sam Harris .
- Like Orton's debut TRAILER PARK, CENTRAL RESERVATION combines folk-pop reminiscent of Sandy Denny and Nick Drake with '90s production sensibilities. While the first record benefited from some well-placed electronic touches, CENTRAL RESERVATION is more organic, the slightly jazzy arrangements based largely around acoustic instrumentation. The production here is not spare however, as Orton makes good use of a string section, the piano work of Dr. John and the vocals of Terry Callier (with whom she recorded the EP BEST BIT).
- The cool detachment of Orton's Sandy Dennyish voice keeps the inviting, friendly arrangements from getting too warm and fuzzy, even when her guitar and voice are the sonic focus. Guest producers David Roback (of Opal and Mazzy Star fame) and Ben Watt (half of Everything But The Girl) lend a good deal to the moody soundscapes, particularly on the electronic-tinged second version of the tile song. With its added layer of textural atmospherics, CENTRAL RESERVATION is intriguing, accessible folk-pop at its best.
Entertainment Weekly (3/26/99, pp.82-83) - "...on CENTRAL RESERVATION Orton's vocals are consistantly stunning..." Rating A-"
CMJ (1/10/00, p.23) - Included in CMJ's "Triple A '99 Top 5" - "...even her quietest moments are packed with powerful emotion and bluesy jazz inflections....she leaves no doubt that the core of her appeal is her songwriting."
Mojo (Publisher) (03/99, p.88) - "...Ms. Orton seduces you with a beautifully organic, richly textured collection of songs top stimulate both the head and the heart..."
NME (Magazine) (4/3/99, p.41) - "...Parodoxically, working with her heros (Dr. John, Terry Callier) has not left her in the shadows; but allowed her to shine."