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On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a very mellow, very lovely conversation between a woman known for her gorgeous voice and heartfelt songwriting and a man known for, as he calls it, “wobbly saxophone,” Beth Orton and Alabaster dePlume.
Beth Orton has been making beautiful, often heartbreaking songs since the early 1990s, when she was a leading light in what I think is a now-forgotten genre called “folktronica.” She first found notice by contributing vocals to a few Chemical Brothers songs, then broke out with her timeless debut album Trailer Park in 1996. She has since created a lovely and varied body of work that’s explored a variety of sounds but that’s tied together by her unforgettable voice. Orton’s latest album is from last year: It’s called Weather Alive, which to me sounds like a spiritual heir to Van Morrison’s classic Astral Weeks, which may in part be because it features the saxophone playing of today’s other guest, Alabaster dePlume. Check out a little bit of “Fractals” right here, and definitely go see Orton on tour this fall; she’ll be back in the States this September. Bethortonofficial.com has all the dates.
Alabaster dePlume picked up the saxophone in 2007, but sort of reinvented himself—including taking on that stage name—in 2015. He became a fixture in London’s improvisational jazz scene not long after, and a lot of what he does is centered around the recording studio/gathering place where this conversation was recorded, Total Refreshment Centre. DePlume broke out in 2020 with an album called To Cy & Lee, which was inspired by and named after some folks he helped as a mental-health support worker. In a couple of weeks, he’ll release a new album called Come With Fierce Grace, whose initial sessions were done during the pandemic with Tom Skinner, a drummer who’s currently also a member of the Radiohead offshoot The Smile. Check out “Greek Honey Slick” from the new album, and check out alabaster-deplume.com for his schedule, which includes a month of U.S. shows in September.
As I mentioned at the top of this intro, this chat is both lovely and very mellow. DePlume is a soothing presence whose spirit seems powered almost exclusively by love, and Orton is happy to participate. They chat about the climate-activism event that landed dePlume in jail and found Orton chased off the stage; they talk about angry yoga and the joys of triangle chokes, and Orton points out how technological advances can help women artists. Find your zen and enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Beth Orton and Alabaster dePlume for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the goodness on this very site. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time.
(Photo Credit: left, Eliot Lee Hazel; right, Chris Almeida; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)