For those of you hungry for more Portishead content I have some good news. In 2002 Beth Gibbons connected with Talk Talk's Paul Webb (here using the name Rustin Man) to produce 'Out Of Season'. It's a record that's much more indebted to folk and jazz than the trip hop Gibbons is known for, and alongside her recording of Górecki's 'Symphony No. 3', proves she's one of the most versatile vocalists alive.
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- Out Of Season by Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man
9/10 XanderGJones 27th May 2014
To be honest, I've never, knowingly, listened to Talk Talk. Now, I'm aware that this statement looks as if I'm reviewing the wrong album, but it makes sense when you learn that 'Rustin Man' is Paul Webb, former bassist of Talk Talk and co-producer of Out of Season. He's collaborated with Beth Gibbons, front-woman of Trip-Hoppers Portishead. And if, like me, you're a Portishead fan, you've probably already clicked 'Add to Basket'. But if you've never heard Beth's voice, you really ought to.
Out of Season is new territory for Beth, she isn't surrounded by drum machines, synthesizers and other electronics, the instrumentation on this album is as natural as the title suggests. It could easily have been recorded in a log cabin deep in the woods. This isn't risky, however. Beth's voice is more than suitable to this music, as we learn from track one. The only single released from this album was 'Tom the Model', a modestly uplifting song of acoustic guitars and a brass section that force themselves to be heard in the chorus as Beth reassures you with the lines "just do what'cha gotta do" and "you know you don't ever have to worry 'bout me". Who'd ever have thought that Gibbons be part of something so traditionally catchy? (I must stress that 'catchy' not be confused with 'pop'). I don't think this song did well in the charts, but nothing of this stature ever does.
The atmosphere soon changes as 'Show' begins. A moody, piano-based half-balled of almost whispered vocals that sound as if they will break into a sob, it never does though. We're on the other end of the spectrum to the not-so-hit-single. It's every bit as good, though. Whether she's singing as if she's a New York Jazz club singer in a smoky room or the image of the sun setting as you sit outside a rural English pub is placed in your mind, it's every bit as enjoyable as you'd hope, maybe moreso. As for Paul Webb, he's shown that he's on the same level as Gibbons here, maybe I'll give Talk Talk a listen...
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