Thursday, January 16, 2003


Album: 'Out of Season'
Artists: Beth Gibbons and Paul Webb (Rustin’ Man)
CD 28 October, 2002
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Go Beat 0665742

I was busy bashing way at the keys of my laptop. The TV was idly blinking at me in the background. Later with Jools Holland was passing me by on BBC 2. Suddenly the most extraordinarily bewitching, expressively downbeat music penetrated my concentration: acoustic alchemy with bleeps and faders. It was ‘Rustin’ Man’, the last track from the new CD by Portishead singer Beth Gibbons and ex-Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb. The atmosphere on ‘Out of Season’" is one of reflection, melancholy, bittersweet melody and laconic instrumentation – with a hint of chilled electronica.

This foray into hybrid alt-folk and post-rock territory won’t necessarily please the trip hop loungers, but it demonstrates just what accomplished purveyors of the non-obvious Gibbons and Webb have become (in an environment that usually depends upon the contrary). Stand out tracks include ‘Mysteries’ and ‘Spider Money’. Homage is paid to Nick Drake, alongside other influences and references. Gibbons’ voice remains fragile and gently-timbred. It does not have huge expressive range, but she knows just how to use her vocal chords, and in what sonic context they echo best. A fine, thoughtful contemporary songbook.

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