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Portishead’s Beth Gibbons Returns Solo, Doleful Yet Determined

Portishead’s Beth Gibbons Returns Solo, Doleful Yet Determined


The album was assembled steadily during the last 10 years, whereas Gibbons often resurfaced with different tasks: composing movie scores, performing Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on “Mother I Sober.”

Produced by Gibbons and James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco), “Lives Outgrown” depends on hand-played devices, but it surely usually juxtaposes them in surreal methods. Ford alone performs an enormous assortment — guitars, dulcimer, keyboards, woodwinds, brasses, even musical noticed — whereas the drummer Lee Harris (from Talk Talk), who shares some songwriting credit, makes use of all types of discovered percussion, together with bins and kitchenware. For the primary time in her catalog, Gibbons allowed herself to layer on backup vocals, which materialize like a ghostly sisterhood.

Her new songs take a protracted view: pondering lifetimes and generations, connecting private considerations to planetary ones. In “Rewind,” with a 5/4 beat and melodies tinged with Arabic modes, she hints at local weather change, singing, “Now that we’ve got had our enjoyable/Time to acknowledge the injury carried out.” Drums and percussion erupt behind her as she worries that “The wild has no extra to present/Gone too deep, gone too far to rewind.”

“Lives Outgrown” is stuffed with reflections that sound hard-earned; there’s new grain in Gibbons’s voice. “Forever ends, you’ll develop previous,” she admonishes in “Lost Changes,” a slow-strummed march with echoes of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You.” In “Beyond the Sun,” a modal drone that gathers an more and more insistent drumbeat, she wonders, “If I had identified the place I’d begun/Would I nonetheless worry the place I would finish?”

“Lives Outgrown” isn’t a story, however its music is constructed to be heard as a complete cycle. It works its means by way of doubt and wish and despair to discover a chastened however worthwhile perseverance. The album begins and ends with pastoral guitar ballads, however drums smolder and boil over alongside the way in which. In “Reaching Out,” with a beat and bass riff that trace at Moroccan gnawa music, Gibbons rides a crescendo of frustration and longing: “I want your like to silence all my disgrace,” she sings.

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