Laura Gibson, La Grande

Laura Gibson, La Grande

Laura Gibson’s latest album, La Grande, is wonderfully rural-sounding, and not in a big belt buckle kind of way. Rather, it’s an album that evokes back roads and wooded hideaways and distant campfires, with the music drifting through the trees and seemingly becoming hushed and gentle as it makes its way to your ears.

I’m reminded strongly of fellow West Coast-er Mirah, albeit minus some of the more “indie” trappings of Ms. Zeitlyn’s music, and also of Scout Niblett, particularly in terms of Gibson’s vocals and arrangements; she has that some out-of-time-y, slightly damaged-sounding voice, and the way she’s assembled these songs makes them sound like something that you should be hearing coming out of a battered Victrola. (Which, incidentally, makes “The Rushing Dark,” with its crackly radio broadcast sound, some off even better than it would otherwise.)

I should note, by the way, that the Niblett comparison above is also because La Grande sees Gibson branching out stylistically somewhat from her previous work, stepping away from the indie-folk to try things a little bit differently. She rolls through a sleepy, sleepy, guitar-less samba on “Lion/Lamb,” with what sounds like a clarinet serving as an accompaniment to the vocals, and then dives into the baroque, sublimely layered gorgeousness of “Skin, Warming Skin,” which is the definite highlight of the album, for me.

There’s also the aforementioned track “The Rushing Dark,” which is elegaic but not gloomy, like Gibson’s looking forward to passing beyond the veil and finally seeing whatever’s beyond, and she’s made her peace. It’s got an interesting, spiritual vibe to it, too, complete with humming backup singers, and that same feel pops up again on the woodsy, jubilant stomp of “The Fire.”

Even the songs that fall on the more overtly folky side of things use some neat instrumentation, like on “Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed,” which is slower and more gentle, with subdued, delicate horns and blink-and-miss-it (but still beautiful) marimba, or the gently-bumping “Red Moon,” which has an honest-to-God tuba line.

Throughout, Gibson’s voice leads you deep, deep off the road and into those darkened, still-mysterious wooded places, following the sound onward and onward until you’re not sure which way leads back home anymore. By then, however, you don’t care anymore which way’ll take you home, anyway.

(Feature photo by Parker Fitzgerald.)

[Laura Gibson is playing 2/13/12 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Breathe Owl Breathe.]
(Barsuk Records -- P.O. Box 22546, Seattle, WA. 98122;; Laura Gibson --; Laura Gibson (Facebook) --; Laura Gibson (Myspace) --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, February 13th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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