In September 1996 I was given a promotional CD in a card sleeve by a music representative from BMG records. It was suggested that the album would appeal to me, and it did pretty much straight away.
The cover of Trailer Park by Beth Orton features a picture that somehow captures the whole mood of the album. I could be mistaken but the shot depicts a woman (Beth Orton) sitting on a car park floor, outside, as the sun rises. It looks like she is exhausted and made me think of a post-all-night-rave. Again, I could be wrong but the music on the album is exactly that, post- rave come-down let’s play some soothing vibes.
This is what makes the album fairly unique. It is folk music that crossed over to a new generation with blissful soothing songs. This could be just very clever marketing, but that is too cynical.
She Cries Your Name (Orbit / Orton) starts with a near Led Zeppelin (their softer material) string. Orton’s vocal is soft yet quite removed. It adds to the vibe and it is a sublime album opener that will hook the listener in. It was released as a single by BMG when the album steadily started selling and peaked at Number 40.
Tangent (Barnes / Friend / Orton) and Trailer Park moves slightly away from folk and plays a laid back electronic vibe out gracefully. Lyrically it does suggest post-club moods again and it works to open the album out already. By the time the soft chorus hits you begin to think can this album keep up this level of quality – you certainly want it to.
Don’t Need A Reason (Barnes / Orton) and mournful sounds play softly out. Beth Orton showcases a vocal busting with quiet earnesty. The track washes over the listener and although it is not a strong as the two album openers it keeps the mellower than mellow vibe going.
Live As You Dream (Barnes / Friend / Orton) and the vibe ups. More urgent than anything Trailer Park has slowly bowled at us so far it is almost a straight up pop song.
Sugar Boy (Barnes / Friend / Orton) is a fairly straight up folk song that widens to a softly grander sound. The album keeps its shape and will endear most ears and minds.
Touch Me With Your Love (Barnes / Friend / Orton) offers more post all nighter sounds. The sparse music sets an electronic wave that threatens to lull into a dark place. Orton initially talks recounting a dream before softly singing and taking the song in a reassuring direction. For a sprawling 7 minutes the song serves to see the album become one you begin to slightly cherish even if you are keeping it at arms distance for the moment.
Whenever (Barnes / Friend / Orton) and the album becomes familar. It is for Trailer Park a less remarkable song but it pads it out well and is not a filler.
How Far (Barnes / Friend / Orton) and it is like the sun is fully up now. More 11a.m. than 6a.m. it takes a brighter direction and is actually quite a jolly little number.
Someone’s Daughter (Barnes / Friend / Orton) is another strong song. It features a pre-chorus hook both lyrically and in the delivery.
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine (Spector / Barry / Greenwich) is a cover that shows Beth Orton’s voice in fine, fine form.
Galaxy Of Emptiness (Orton / Barnes / Friend) is the longest and most experimental song on Trailer Park. It pretty much confirms the post club vibe that is hinted at from the artwork to the whole overall vibe. Dreamy and ambling it closes the album well. You may drift off to sleep but not from boredom but because the album achieves what it probably set out to do.
Whilst not being quite in the league of Dummy by Portishead, Trailer Park also crossed over to the coffee table brigade. The album was nominated for the Mercury Prize and probably deserved to win (which it didn’t).
I noticed that people that picked up the album when I worked in the record store were the more clued up buyers (I shouldn’t generalise, but it’s true). Having just listened to the album for the first time in about a decade it sounds exactly the same as I remember and has not aged at all and comes highly recommended…