Beth Gibbons: Out of Season 

Most famously known as the singer from gloomy British triphoppers Portishead, Beth Gibbons as solo artist is an intriguing proposition. Her solo release Out of Season (actually a collaboration with Paul Webb--"Rustin Man"--of '80s band, Talk Talk) does not disappoint. Stripped of Portishead's clever samples and heavy beats, Gibbons retains the uncanny mood of the music in a softer strain. With her glassy, angular voice Gibbons channels such disparate musical ghosts as folk chanteuse Bryan Ferry circa Bete Noir, ('60s spy-movie soundtrack) and Billie Holliday, with an unearthly tragic chorus thrown in for good measure. Out of Season begins with the slight "Mysteries," a track that first strikes the listener as merely fragile but emerges rarefied. It may be that this opening alone is worth the entire album, but there are plenty of notable tunes including "Sand River" and perhaps the best song on the album, "Tom the Model" (dumb title, great hook). When describing Beth Gibbon's supernatural wail, the same descriptors float to the surface: fragile, intense, spare, ragged, ethereal, mad. Out of Season can be too introspective, but overall the album delivers melodious meditations on love and loss to a lovely effect. The U.S. release of Out of Season includes a bonus track, "Candy Says," and the video to "Mysteries."

--Sara Beitia

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