Album review: Benjamin Gibbard, “Former Lives”

For a musician who is widely associated with a particular band, making a solo album is a way to be more intimate with listeners. Yet that’s not what Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard does on “Former Lives,” the first release credited to the Seattle singer-songwriter alone (although not his first without his regular group). If these 12 songs are mostly about love and loneliness, that doesn’t mean they’re autobiographical.


Where Death Cab combines classic- and modern-rock styles, “Former Lives” is more conventional. The album was recorded in Los Angeles, as its sound and guests attest. Aimee Mann, who began her career just a few years after Gibbard was born, duets on “Bigger Than Love,” and other songs feature vibes or mariachi horns. Such touches are deft, but they — much like the whole album — seem more professional than personal.

Benjamin Gibbard performs Thursday at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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