Beth Gibbons has not been very active even outside of Portishead, a group that has not released an album since 2008, unlike her partner Geoff Barrow. By her account, she has only published an album with Rustin Man, back in 2002, and then a symphonic live show. When her name appeared on Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, it was like seeing an oasis.
But things are falling into place again. Beth Gibbons has announced the release of a new album, signed by her completely alone, called ‘Lives Outgrown’, which will be released on May 17 by the Domino label. The first single is a creepy, ghostly track called ‘Floating On a Moment’.
On the album, Gibbons will reflect on the “new horizons that open up when you turn 50” and, in this sense more than any other, on death, a topic that, Gibbons says, has kept him up at night in recent times. Precisely, ‘Floating On a Moment’ talks about living in the present, about “floating in the moment” because no one knows “how long it will last.” Instrumentally, it is a pastoral folk song, dense in guitar, vibraphone or dulcimer arrangements, to which a choir is added in the final section that lightens the weight. Gibbons’ voice sounds as beautiful and sorrowful as ever. ‘Floating On a Moment’ sounds like Portishead dressed as folk, in the best of ways.
“The album is called ‘Lives Outgrown’ because it talks about the different emotional and physical transitions we go through in life, but also about the proximity to the moment when we leave this planet and venture into the unknown,” added Gibbons in a statement. “It’s something that scares me, but I try to celebrate it as it gets closer, because it gives me the ability to grow beyond the limits of the physical farm.”
Gibbons also previews the sound of ‘Lives Outgrown’: «It has been a process in which I have explored (new) structures within my personal capabilities. “I’ve wanted to get away from breakbeats and snares and focus on the woody textures of timbres, distancing myself from the sugary high frequencies that are addictive and satisfying like sugar and salt.”
Although Portishead have not released music again, the Bristol trio also made up of Adrian Utley have reunited from time to time to play live. The most recent occasion occurred in 2022, at a concert in favor of Ukraine and Yemen.