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Sweetest Decline
Beth Orton
Central Reservation
1999

Like the yellow, flattened grass that spent the winter months buried under a blanket of snow, I too experience a kind of reemergence in March.  I can almost imagine myself coming out of a dark burrow--rubbing my eyes sleepily with balled-up fists when faced with the light, stumbling over my own two feet, taking in deep lungfuls of air.

I love the sound of winter melting away--water trickling down from the roof to the gravel below; noisy torrents rushing towards open-mouthed sewers.  (Geek alert: this melting always reminds me of a montage in the BBC production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe wherein shots of dripping icicles and bubbling brooks are meant to signify the White Witch's weakening power).

Beth Orton's music characterizes my late teens and early twenties.  I liked the poetry of her songs and remember copying out many of her lyrics into my notebooks.  Her voice has that nasal quality I seem to be drawn to time and again, but with an added filter; or it's that she has a lump of melancholy caught in her throat (that sounds terrible, but I can't think of any other way to describe it at the moment).  "Sweetest Decline" sounds like that sleepy reemergence I mentioned above.  I love its gentleness; the way it sounds like a lazy, sun-dappled afternoon; like sitting on a porch swing, your feet skimming the surface of the floorboards, swaying imperceptibly, in time to the tune that floats at the back of your mind.

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