Moving away from the poppier tone of critical darling Daybreaker and its subsequent remix effort, Beth Orton returns to her mellow, folksy home on Comfort of Strangers. The Brit’s voice is, as ever, a sulking and sparse combination of Fiona Apple, Edie Brickell, and Cat Power, and being so, it rarely leaves a small vocal radius — causing a sort of monotone drone to permeate some of the more repetitive, quiet songs (‘Shadow of a Doubt’ especially). Luckily, it sounds like someone tossed the girl a few sugar packets on some of the jazzier numbers, which saves Comfort from being relegated to the stuff-you-play-in-the-background-at-work pile. The album’s opener, ‘Worms’, is particularly biting, with Orton calling herself an “apple-eating heathen,” and the piano in ‘Heartland Truckstop’ proves that a drum kit isn’t the only thing that can provide a beat. Orton’s a little mopey, sure, but you won’t mistake her for depressed.