Beth Gibbons & Rustin' Man 

Out of Season
/polydor; 2002/

rating : 7



more info: 

I realized a couple of minutes ago that I had only two boxes for albums, as far as seasons go : either winter or summer. The Edward Scissorhands soundtrack is a winter album and Acme is a summer album. This is totally subjective. There's no such things as Spring or Autumn records as far as I'm concerned. Spring and Autumn are just there to make you wait 'til Summer or Winter anyway. And tonight I felt that winter was here. I know it's not but, please, shut the fuck up. I cooked pasta with tomato sauce and tons of cheese, and I took my blue, perfume-soaked pull-over out of the shelf. And it felt nice, warm and comfortable. And while I was cooking I played Beth Gibbons' "solo" album, and it felt nice too. The opening track, Mysteries sounds like it was recorded in an old house, near a fireplace, during a Jane Austen-like party, with Mr Knightley, Emma and the other ones singing in the back. It makes me think of the song in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado about Nothing. You know, the "sigh no more" song. If it were snowy the picture would be complete, but it's still warm outside. 

Tom the Model is brilliant. It's the first song I have heard from this album and I just love the warm jazzy feeling. So do what you gotta do... While Mysteries has a folk-y, pastoral feeling, Tom the Model is posh and glittery. It's the only song that Gibbons sings with her Portishead voice. Every song is sung in a different way, with barely noticeable changes. Show is a warm and dark song only featuring a piano, a cello and Billie Holiday's haunted ghost wandering through it. Romance sounds like a lost 1950 song. Gibbons croons and the luxurious orchestration make this song one of the best on Out of Season. Sand River is a (white) soul song which makes me think of the best songs in Fiona Apple's albums (i like Fiona Apple), with a less mainstream-ish feeling. Resolve only features Gibbons' voice and a guitar. She starts with a low voice and modulates it throughout the song. Just like Romance, Drake starts like a theme song for a 1950s Hollywood movie and she sings it the 1950 way. Old-school style. Paul Webb (ex-Talk Talk member, aka Rustin' Man) and Adrian Utley (Portishead) arranged and produced this album in a magnificent way, avoiding every misstep possible. Everything sounds delicately analogue. And it's nice. Maybe that will teach Beck a lesson. Funny Time of Year is a moving, dark song with arrangements slowly drowning Gibbons' voice. It's by far the most dramatic song on the album. The closing song, Rustin' Man is unsettling, with the cut-up vocals, Beth Gibbons' almost spoken word-like singing and the harmonica unleashed in the end. It sounds like a present to Webb, a "yeah, do whatever you want with this one" thing. This is bad if you love nothing more than a great closing song, like me. It doesn't ruin the album but I wish they had ended it in a less experimental way. It's not that I don't like experimental music, I just wonder why this song is on the album. Anyway, despite this misstep and even if it can't really compare with Portishead, the album is great. 

-Barbara H 

/nov 15th 2002/