Benjamin Gibbard: Former Lives

Benjamin Gibbard
Former Lives
(Barsuck Records)

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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.

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About Tim Needles

Tim Needles is an artist, photographer, humorist, and writer from Long Island, NY. His writing and art work has been seen in multiple exhibitions and publications around New York as well as the Photographer’s Forum, French Photo, the New York Times, and LI Pulse magazine. He is also an educator and currently teaches art and film at Smithtown, NY and as an Education Leader for Adobe. He was recently the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Award in Washington DC and serves as the director of Strictly Students, a non-for-profit group for media and education. His work can be seen on his website: www.timneedles.com
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