U.K. singer/songwriter Beth Orton will begin work on her third full-length album in April. The set will be her first under a new deal with British label Heavenly, distributed by EMI. Orton was previou

U.K. singer/songwriter Beth Orton will begin work on her third full-length album in April. The set will be her first under a new deal with British label Heavenly, distributed by EMI. Orton was previously signed to Heavenly in a joint venture with Deconstruction/BMG. Billboard.com has learned that in North America, the album will be released by electronica-leaning label Astralwerks, a subsidiary of EMI's Virgin label.

The singer has reportedly written over 20 songs for the new set. Among them are several tunes written in collaboration with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who joined Orton on stage in January at a show at King's College in London. Orton has also been playing live with various ex-members of the late New York avant-rock combo Soul Coughing.

The first fruits of the upcoming recording sessions may see the light as an EP later this year, with the full album scheduled for release early in 2002.

Orton's 1999 set "Central Reservation," released in North America via Arista, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and has sold in excess of 220,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan. She was named best British female artist at last year's annual Brit Awards..

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