Benjamin Gibbard: Former Lives
Bright and cheery aren’t words that one often associates with singer Ben Gibbard. But on his first full-length solo release, Former Lives, his soft, upbeat melodies fit the description. Songwriters know that not every song works with a band’s personality, so over the course of fronting Death Can For Cutie for 15 years, Ben Gibbard has amassed a number of good songs that, for one reason or another, never made the cut and this album shows off the ones that got away.
The album begins with a short, 50-second, gorgeous, a cappella song, “Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby,” and gives listeners a taste of what they’re in for. The album then progresses to songs like the catchy “Dream Song” and the breezy “Teardrop Windows.” The album is solid and really easy to listen to, especially the songs with quirky musical elements like “Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke),” with its Mexicali horns and the beautiful chord progressions against hummed melodies. “Duncan, Where Have You Gone?” has a decidedly late John Lennon feel. There’s also an interesting duet with Aimee Mann titled “Bigger Than Love,” which is a nice change of pace, and then there’s a great acoustic love song, “Lily,” which is a definite highlight.
What’s interesting about the album is that it is unlike much of what fans might know of Ben’s music from Death Cab as well as side projects such as The Postal Service and ¡All-Time Quarterback!, but the music feels confident in its tone and the production is really well done and definitely worth checking out.