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97. Beth Orton – Worms

18/09/2009

97

Worms is a brilliantly angry little song. Or at least it appears to be: look beyond the oblique metaphors of chickens’ wishbones and worms lacking the testicles to dance and what’s left is Orton, jilted and audibly cross about it, for possibly the first time in her career. And the newfound scorn in her voice is magnificent: “Now I’m your apple-eatin’ heathen / Any old rib-stealin’ Eve / And you ain’t got my faith / So best keep your belief,” she spits, in a vocal performance that lasts barely 90 seconds, over a swaggering piano that refuses to join her in her anger but which simmers with sisterly loyalty nonetheless. The whole track is barely two minutes from start to finish, but there’s enough poise, elegance and tightly-coiled rage here to fill  entire albums. “That’s all,” Orton announces when she’s done, and indeed, Worms’ brevity is one of its assets: so concise is this ticking-off that it stuns the listener into  repeat plays.

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