Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown review – long-awaited solo debut is a gripping study of ageing and loss

Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown review – long-awaited solo debut is a gripping study of ageing and loss

(Domino)
In the Portishead singer’s singular, astonishing soundworld, these songs sit in autumnal gloom but are occasionally dappled with warmth and light

No one is ever going to accuse Beth Gibbons of over-exerting herself in the rapacious pursuit of fame: her solo debut arrives 22 years after her collaboration with Rustin Man, Out of Season, 16 years after the last Portishead album, Third, and 11 after it was first announced.

In fairness, Lives Outgrown has a unique sound you suspect was only arrived at after lengthy experimentation. The Rustin Man album echoes through the acoustic guitar and folky melody of Tell Me Who You Are Today, and on Reaching Out; so do the hypnotic rhythms that underpinned Third’s We Carry On and The Rip. But Lives Outgrown ultimately draws you into a soundworld entirely its own. Strings play mournfully low and squeal discordantly; the snare-free drumming resolves into a Bo Diddley beat on Beyond the Sun, and elsewhere rumbles ominously, like the last sound you’d hear before being ritually sacrificed.

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