Maybe the soot helped.
The English songwriter Beth Orton wasn’t sure she even wanted to make another album when she started to write the songs for “Weather Alive”: her eighth studio album, her first since 2016, and by far her best. It’s an album that sums up and transcends all the crosscurrents of Orton’s decidedly unorthodox artistic path.
“It’s been so many phases and changes, and trying to find my place within my own music, within my own voice and in my own sound,” she said in a video interview. “Who am I in what I do?”
On her recordings, Orton, 51, is pensive and measured. In conversation, she is nearly the opposite: voluble and forthcoming, with her thoughts tumbling out.