If you know Jehnny Beth, it is surely from her work as the frontwoman of British post-punk provocateurs Savages. But she’s the opposite ofwild and unrestrained on this debut solo album. Which is not to suggest that To Love Is To Live is tame. If anything, Beth retains the defiant intensity that has always been her sonic signature. But here, it’s often used in service of different masters — chiefly a slate of throbbing, pulsing and stylishly sophisticated electronic constructs interspersed with melancholy, ominously subtle piano ballads. Aside from a few noisy and decidedly edgy outliers like the tumultuous I’m The Man and the serrated How Could You, these artsy cuts are generally more introspective and tightly wound than the explosive catharsis offered by her day job. Even so, there’s plenty of style and substance to love here.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Jehnny Beth first emerged in public consciousness as the charismatic lead singer and co-writer of UK post-punk band Savages, who received Mercury Prize nominations for their classic two albums, Silence Yourself (2013) and Adore Life (2016). The band has been on a break since 2017, and Beth has used the time well, making a handful of live guest appearances with artists including PJ Harvey, But it’s in her solo debut To Love Is To Live that she truly steps into — and claims — the spotlight. The album is a sonic tour de force, a dark cinematic meditation on the strange business of being alive. Throughout the record, she explores the deepest reaches of her creative consciousness, wrapped in a whirlwind of sounds, the result of collaborating with producers such as Atticus Ross, Flood, and Johnny Hostile, and songwriters like close friend Romy Madley Croft of The xx. But it was David Bowie that ultimately pushed Beth towards starting a debut album in the first place. “I guess the idea first emerged the night that Bowie died. It was 4am in LA and I played his music in bed until the morning. Now when I look back I realise Black Star had a huge impact on me. It was suddenly clear that we are perishable beings, so I made a silent promise to myself.”