Friday, February 17, 2012

Laura Gibson - La Grande (2012)

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I discovered singer/songwriter Laura Gibson in the same burst of all-consuming curiosity borne from Sharon Van Etten's i-D session for "Leonard". Turns out Heather Woods Broderick (who provides those sweet, sweet vocal harmonies) was also a member of Laura Gibson's backing band. A couple spins of Beasts of Seasons later and Gibson's La Grande was majorly on my to-do list.

 La Grande begins with a rush of percussion much like Feist's Metals but that's where the comparison ends. "La Grande" sets up the right amount of tension and drama as Gibson weaves her delicate narratives, adding in vocalizations and different voice effects to heighten the dramatic plodding bass lines and heavy boom-clang percussion. When "Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed" begins, you're almost sure you're listening to a completely different album, the complete opposite of the rather noisy attention-grabbing opener, the track draws you in close with it's sudden quiet and plays not unlike a lovingly caressing lullaby.

La Grande is an absolute gem of an album: each track seems to draw from entirely different influences and source materials (like the sultry bossa nova-esque "Lion/Lamb") yet fit together with a stunning amount of cohesion that's evident both track by track and in the track's individual construction. Gibson creates a realm where each songs feeds equally off her intricate, breathtaking arrangements and her rather simple but no doubt earnest songwriting. The albums benefits mostly from Gibson's risktaking - Gibson's vocals are heartfelt and beautiful but she's not above applying the unpretty (like the aforementioned vocals effects in "La Grande"). La Grande is the perfect example of an album that's not emotionally claustrophobic but still manages to be endlessly sincere. Gibson isn't wearing her heart on her sleeve but her every word, verse, and quaver resonates with heart. The twinkling piano and craning flutes are just extra - properly utilized ornaments that dress the album's intimacy in a fancier packaging without distracting from it.

Get a taste of Laura Gibson with tracks "La Grande" and "Lion/Lamb" and/or the album streaming on Spotify.
 Laura Gibson - La Grande by cityslang

 Laura Gibson - Lion/Lamb by cityslang

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