Beth Gibbons And Rustin Man

Beth Gibbons And Rustin Man

Out Of Season


Paul Webb (a.k.a. Rustin Man) once belonged to the group Talk Talk, whose stated goal in 1983 was “to write songs that you’ll be able to listen to in 20 years time.” For a wonder and against the odds, they actually achieved this with singles such as “Talk Talk” and “It’s My Life,” which indeed do still hold up today.

Beth Gibbons is part of a group (Portishead) that helped create and popularize the then-new style of trip-hop, her morose vocals giving an unmistakable character to an already striking sound. Her entreating voice is a crucial part of the appeal of the Portishead singles.

It’s also the centerpiece of this collaboration with Rustin Man/Webb. And so it’s a bit disconcerting when she decides to hide it behind an obvious Billie Holiday homage on “Romance.” Some may find this sly and winning, but songs like “Drake” and “Sand River” were better received to my ears. Their poignant arrangements and laxative-smooth backing from “real” instruments (scarcely a synthesizer for miles around) make an attractive setting for this polished set of recordings.

Equally suitable for the purposes of driving along to or listening with a couple of friends and acquaintances, Out Of Season is a pleasing addition to one’s music collection. And that is what we’re talking about, aren’t we?

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