Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown (digital outlets)

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Lost Changes
Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown (digital outlets)

If the name is unfamiliar you are forgiven because it has been a very long time since she was part of the conversation, and this is her debut album under her own name at 59, some decades on from when her voice was so familiar.

Beth Gibbons was the voice of Portishead who defined British trip-hop in the Nineties.

Now she steps out under her own name and certainly has something to say as a woman of her age and experience. In sometimes spectral songs she explores "motherhood, anxiety, menopause and mortality", rare themes in popular music but here born from real world experience.

In the other-worldly Floating on a Moment she stares down the inevitable: “I'm heading toward a boundary that divides us . . . travelling on a voyage where the living have never been”, but tempering it with a children's choral part.

And in Lost Changes which stalks in with Pink Floyd-like moodiness, “forever ends, you will grow old . . . don't pretend you're unaware”.

Far from being gloomy and morose however, Gibbons couches some of these stark realities in pillows of strings and synths, and neo-folk settings (the weary Oceans where her heart is “tired and worn”, the resignation of For Sale with its solo violin passage).

There is percussion-driven experimentation familiar from Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush (the environmentally conscious, ominous Rewind with “we all know what's coming, gone too far”), the whispery Reaching Out soaring in its closing overs and the Anglo-folk of Beyond the Sun taking off on galloping percussion with the disconcerting chilliness of The Wicker Man.

As ambitious and confident as St. Vincent's equally assured album -- although very different – Beth Gibbons' long overdue debut after numerous collaborations has been worth the wait. 

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You can hear this album at Spotify here

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