It’s Rustin’ Dummy
Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man’s collaboration Out of Season is the work of an unusual alliance. Gibbons made her name as vocalist for counter culture sensation Portishead, while Rustin Man (a.k.a. Paul Webb) is an alumnus from eighties new wavers Talk Talk. The two friends decided upon collaborating for this release following Portishead’s last tour. The result is a mixed bag of so-so rekindled ballad reminiscent of forties and fifties jazz crooners and some eerily beautiful songs punctuated by Gibbons’ haunting delivery.
The album starts and stops several times like a sputtering car fumbling to keep the pistons running smoothly. Out of Season opens with “Mysteries,” a song riddled with far too much angelic vocal backup as Gibbons whisper-sings, “God knows that I adore life,” which amounts to a folksy snore fest. That’s followed up with “Tom the Model” which fails for almost the exact same reasons but also decides to throw in a few bars of unhelpful jazz horns. However, immediately thereafter, “Show”, a simple piano ballad perfectly laced with Gibbons’ mesmerizing sorrow-filled vocals, brings the downward momentum to an end–only for it to return one song later with Gibbons attempting to give a smoky delivery on “Romance” that utterly misses the mark.
Such is the story throughout Out of Season. It gets going good, then quickly dies. There are moments where the chemistry between Rustin and Beth is great, but there’s also just as many failed experiments. It’s hard not to be thinking about Portishead and be reminded of how perfectly Gibbons’ voice fitted there but on this album sounds like a square peg being thrust into a round hole.