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Go Beat, 2002
see also... Portishead
This long-awaited new material from the former Portishead singer is a firm change of direction. It's a mellow and intimate solo vocal performance, mostly in the realm of acoustic jazz. The harsh edges typical of Beth's work with Portishead have been smoothed out, as she whispers and croons her way through this set of subdued ballads. Her pseudonymous collaborator is Paul Webb formerly of enigmatic experimentalists Talk Talk. Their ambient, minimalist leanings have echoes here. His backings are often just a bare acoustic guitar and harmonica, but sometimes with some subtle electronic splashes and percussion. The first couple of tracks also have a lovely delicate choir-of-Beths vocal effect. "Tom the Model" has a ridiculously catchy chorus with oom-pah horns. On "Show" and "Romance" Beth does a convincing breathy jazz diva - Billie Holiday has been mentioned here by many other reviewers. The songwriting does sag in inspiration in the middle, but returns to top form with "Funny Time Of Year", a slow anthemic crescendo with a great production.
September 11, 2003