Beth Gibbons – Lives Outgrown

On her long-awaited debut solo album, Portishead singer Beth Gibbons has channelled her midlife experiences into a haunting collection of torch songs

Album Review by Patrick Gamble | 13 May 2024
  • Beth Gibbons – Lives Outgrown
Album title: Lives Outgrown
Artist: Beth Gibbons
Label: Domino
Release date: 17 May

Middle-age is a period of life that can cause untold anxiety, but rather than dwell on narrowing horizons, Beth Gibbons has released her first proper solo album. Written across the last ten years, in which the Portishead singer grappled with the menopause and the loss of friends and family, Lives Outgrown is a record about departures and the transition to a new equilibrium. 

It's impossible not to hear grief and guilt mingle together on Lost Changes as Gibbons murmurs, 'I want you to love me, the way that you used to', her disembodied voice proof that sometimes a whisper can be as powerful as a scream. References abound to setting suns, and flames dying out, but Lives Outgrown is a sonically radical album, with Gibbon’s retaining her sense of adventure and a willingness to push artistic boundaries. 

From the John Barry-esque orchestration of Reaching Out, to Talk Talk’s Lee Harris’s febrile percussion on Rewind, the album is full of richly detailed arrangements that allow Gibbons to free herself from the pull of Portishead’s past. Whispering Love concludes the album on a contemplative note, with Gibbons' voice gradually dissolving into a haze of bird song and the warm aura of self-acceptance.

Listen to: Floating on a Moment, Lost Changes, Beyond the Sun