BY MAGGIE HENSIEN // Beth Ditto’s debut as a solo artist marks a departure from the garage-influenced punk that characterized her involvement with the Olympia-based outfit, Gossip. The Arkansas native’s record Fake Sugar, released by Virgin Records in June of 2017, is the result of a strenuous recording process that spanned the two years since Gossip’s disintegration in 2016. The amount of songs created during this time clocked in at a whopping 80 before Ditto narrowed down to the album’s final 12, according to Beats 1.
With traces of country, gospel, soul, and Paul Simon’s Graceland, Ditto presents an album that encompasses loss, love, acceptance, and identity. The record bursts to life with “Fire,” the first track and lone single, to establish the energy and charisma that persists in the proceeding songs. Bits of wisdom (“Heaven wasn’t built in a day”), earnest confessions (“I get so tired of feeling sick and tired”), and anthemic assurances (“There are rules that I’m to break”) are sprinkled throughout songs “In And Out,” “Fake Sugar,” and “We Could Run.” The vocal strength for which Ditto is most known for is at its peak dynamism: fierce and mighty in “Go Baby Go” to radiant and poignant in “Lover.”
If the contents of Fake Sugar were reduced to a mathematical function, it would resemble a horizontally-reflected exponential function1, starting at the slope’s high point with the raucous danceability of “Fire” then curving downward to conclude with more mellowed and introspective songs like “Lover” and “Clouds (Song for John).” Ditto’s debut excavates the core of her person with passion and frankness that suggests a promising future as a solo artist in the years to come.
Beth Ditto will play at 9:30 Club on Saturday, March 10 at 9 pm. Doors open at 8 pm. Tickets are still available here.