- 26 Nov 02
Few singers on earth possess such astounding vocal skills as the Portishead chanteuse; even fewer have figured out how to hone them to such bewitchingly elaborate perfection.
If genius is truly in the detail, Beth Gibbons has genius in spades. Few singers on earth possess such astounding vocal skills as the Portishead chanteuse; even fewer have figured out how to hone them to such bewitchingly elaborate perfection.
On this first collaboration with former Talk Talk bassist Paul Webb (aka Rustin Man), Gibbons scorches her voice into the memory. She proves herself a chameleon, altering her tones to suit the mood of each song. She is capable of great delicacy and beauty (‘Show’, ‘Resolve’), but also of a swampy, jazzy sexiness that makes tracks such as ‘Romance’ seem like classic standards. Her phrasing at all times is nothing short of magnificent.
This is intelligent, subtle music, generated with passion and feeling. Standout track ‘Sand River’ is reminiscent of Portishead, but eschews their characteristic trip-hop beats in favour of an altogether more gentle, eerie and acoustic sound. By contrast, the nicely vivacious ‘Tom The Model’ showcases the duo at their most bombastic. That’s to say, slightly less quiet than usual.