When Ben Gibbard announced he would be releasing a solo record this fall it may have been one of the happiest days of my life. Dramatic, yes. But what you have to understand is that for fans of Death Cab For Cutie, Ben Gibbard is probably the best songwriter of the past 15 years. So to think of an entire album of his musings… it was just plain exciting! While waiting for singles or song previews, fans everywhere speculated as to what Former Lives would sound like. Would we finally get another Postal Service inspired album? Would Â it be Transatlanticism Part Deux?
When the first single, ‘Teardrop Windows,’ was released, followed by songs like ‘Bigger Than Love’ and ‘Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke)’ listeners finally understood that the album may not have been what we expected, but it was way more interesting than anyone could have predicted. The songs included in the almost 37 minute record are songs that have been floating around Mr. Gibbard’s catalog but never found a home in a Death Cab album. Compiled in Former Lives, the 12 songs create an album that leaves a listener entertained by the stories Gibbard tells and scratching one’s head, wondering what will come next. The album is, in a word, delightful.
I was lucky enough to attend Ben Gibbard’s show last month on top of Smith Tower benefiting Referendum 74 and was able to sample some of the songs from Former Lives up close and personal. While ‘Teardrop Windows’ never fit into a DCFC album, hearing it alongside songs like ‘Soul Meets Body’ or the Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,’ sung by a solo Gibbard, made that show one of the best I’ve seen this year. That being said, it’s safe to say that if you were able to snag tickets to his show with Damien Jurardo on Friday, 11/16 at The Showbox or on Saturday 11/17 at Washington Hall withÂ Shelby Earl to benefit 826 Seattle you will NOT be disappointed by the material Ben Gibbard plays. On those stages, the best songwriter of my generation will perform old favorites and move seamlessly into new melodies. And it will be perfect.