Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man Out of Season

The biggest question is answered quickly: no, this does not sound like a Portishead record. While the stunning outfit is putting the finishing touches on their grossly overdue record, Gibbons has recorded a very stripped-down effort with former Talk Talk member Paul Webb (aka Rustin Man). Out of Season is a very beautiful record that is mostly comprised of Gibbon’s haunting vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar, piano and other "non-beats” arrangements. There’s tiny hints of Portishead, just in the depth and intensity of her vocals, like the big band force of "Tom the Model” and also the depressingly lovely "Show,” which contains a repetitive series of keys similar to a loop. "Romance” is a borderline show tune that could easily fit along Broadway, as Gibbons adapts her Billie Holiday crooning to a magnificent horn and string section. There’s no question that Out of Season is going to gather a lot of attention from fans of Portishead, but whether the people looking for hypnotic hip-hop beats will fall into a record that’s more Nick Drake than DJ Shadow is left to be seen. Stripping down the instruments to allow Gibbons’ voice to take centre stage actually gives you more appreciation as to just how gorgeous her vocals really are. Once you get over the fact that this might not be what you’re expecting, you can gradually allow yourself to embrace Out of Season’s passion and impressive song craft. (Go Beat)