Since her 1996 Trailer Park album, an offering of mellow folkie trance that surpassed its predicted cult status on both sides of the Atlantic by selling some 300,000 copies, she's been on the road quite a lot. However, this summer she's had to get her head down to record a follow-up. Such is her work ethic that Orton has pulled out of some prestigious international dates and Guildford 98 is the only event she's doing.
"I'm sad at missing the Lilith Fair events in the USA last month but I had to get on with my album. Sometimes I think bands can just tour, tour, tour, which is really good and everything, but then you have to keep making f**king records so I had to work really hard."
We get round to talking about festivals as she runs through the wildly diverse offerings at this year's Guildford event, a happy little festival that has a maximum capacity of 10,000 and offers "luxury toilets" as well as a lido and indoor swimming pool next to the site. "At Guildford I'm doing an acoustic set as I've been busy mixing the album, so there's been no time to rehearse a band, but we may have strings. There'll probably be quite a lot of new material. Having the guts to do a festival acoustically is quite different from anything I've done before."
Orton makes the kind of music that hits the right vibe at festivals and we continue on that theme. She refuses to unveil her worst festival experience ("I think, um, maybe, um, well, you don't want to go there"). Her best festival moment came at last year's Lilith Fair. It was at this touring "celebration of women in music" that she met Emmylou Harris. "Yeah, I sang with Emmylou Harris on stage. I went `ooh-a-bop-bop'. Just like that. She came and chatted to me and told me she bought my album as she saw my video on MTV. She's an amazing woman. She's one of those people who, like, plant seeds of something good wherever they go. You just can't imagine her pissing people off."
It's doubtful if Dean Friedman will have quite that effect, but the least he should do is ask Orton to join him to do those great screechy bits on "Lucky Stars".
Guildford 98, Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey (01483 454159); 7-9 Aug. Beth Orton appears on the main stage on 8 Aug. Headliners on the main and dance stages are Space, LTJ Bukem (7 Aug), Shed 7, Lo-Fidelity Allstars, DJs (8 Aug) and Lightning Seeds, Mad Professor (9 Aug)