Album Review | Ben Gibbard – Former Lives
by Courtney Leigh Allen, is originally from Seattle but now writes, lives and paints in the great city of Boston, Massachusetts.
For an artist who has had so many successes as part of a variety of bands and side projects, it’s hard to place solo projects. Is this a direction the artist is headed? Or some combination of a few different projects? But Ben Gibbard has made it easy for us to figure out. His latest album, Former Lives, is not a new direction or forgotten Death Cab tunes. With these 12 tracks, Gibbard is closing the door on the last 8 years of his life by finally putting the bits and pieces of old relationships and travels into song.
Anybody who has ever traveled, missed or regretted an opportunity in some point in their life will find something in this collection of songs. It really is a diverse and varied collection, from the mariachi-tinged Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke) to the sadly effervescent duet with Aimee Mann, Bigger than Love. On the opening minute-long Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby, Gibbard narrates a drizzly walk through London as a “melancholy whimsical tune,” he sings. It’s just enough hook you in on one fifty-second snapshop of a day in his life while traveling.
The Aimee Mann duet is another standout from the album. There’s actually a similarity in Ben and Aimee’s voices that works surprisingly well. A track about Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald’s tumultuous relationship, the two have made the ages old story relevant for 2012. One of the biggest surprises of the album is the mariachi-backed Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke) that’s an old cowboy tune. But when Ben sings it, it suits his voice and personality perfectly. “It’s always summer, in the southern state and it’s a comfortable life and a beautiful place.”
Broken Yolk in Western Sky is a alt-country track that soothes with its smooth pedal steel accents. One of the oldest tracks, Broken Yolk used to be a staple in his set when he played solo acoustic shows back in the early 2000s.
With such an eclectic collection, Gibbard has kept the theme of this album tight and succinct. And it completely works. Definitely check out this album, as you’re sure to find something (or many things) you love. Ben Gibbard will be out on tour to support this album, dates are below!
Sun Oct 14 – Toronto ON @ The Danforth Music Hall
Thu Nov 01 – Minneapolis MN @ Assembly Hall at The Women’s Club w/ Advance Base
Fri Nov 02 – Chicago, IL @ Athenaeum Theatre w/ Advance Base
Sun Nov 04 – Somerville, MA @ Somerville Theater w/ Advance Base
Mon Nov 05 – New York, NY @ Town Hall w/ Advance Base
Wed Nov 07 – Glenside, PA @ Keswick Theatre w/ Advance Base
Thu Nov 08 – Washington, DC @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue w/ Advance Base
Sat Nov 10 – Saxapahaw, NC @ The Haw River Ballroom w/ Advance Base
Sun Nov 11 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse w/ Advance Base
Tue Nov 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts Theatre w/ Damien Jurado
Wed Nov 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Wilshire Ebell w/ Damien Jurado
Fri Nov 16 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox w/ Damien Jurado
Sun Nov 18 – Portland, OR @ The Crystal Ballroom w/ Damien Jurado