Laura Gibson is a singer/songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. Gibson has been releasing albums and and has been active in the folk scene for nearly a decade, with four full-length albums to her name. With her poignant lyrics and charming vocals the singer/songwriter has gained success, touring the U.S. with The Decemberists' frontman Colin Meloy, as well as embarking on headlining tours of her own. Gibson has collaborated with a variety of artists in the Portland music scene including Meloy, Laura Veirs, Norfolk & Western, and the Portland Cello Project. After self-releasing her debut in 2004, Gibson released two acclaimed records on Hush records in 2006 and 2009. Her most recent album La Grande was released on Barsuk Records on January 24th, 2012. The album is inspired by the town of the same name in north eastern Oregon.
Laura Gibson's latest album La Grande was inspired by the town of the same name, a remote city in north eastern Oregon where Gibson wrote much of the album. With the album's dusty vintage folk feel, you half imagine the singer staked out in a log cabin, tea cozy and acoustic guitar ever at the ready. Like Gibson's past work -and many of her contemporaries- her brand of folk is lushly orchestral, whimsical and emotional. The album mixes the intimate and the epic, like those tiny towns in north eastern Oregon surrounded by miles of plains and towering mountains. Gibson deftly swerves between stripped down passages, finger picked acoustic guitars and vocals, and dense, majestic instrumentation. “Skin, Warming Skin” follows this formula gorgeously. Gibson's tender vocals sound distant, as if she's singing to the campfire on the album's cover and you've crept to the edge of the light to listen in. Then the drums kick in along with venerable slide guitar and what sounds like an earnest pioneer choir. Gibson is a folk artist, but veins of rock snake throughout the album, giving it depth and energy. The album's title track is a rollicking slice of folk rock, rolling drums, moody guitar and Gibson's spry vocals. “The Fire” recalls Devendra Banhart back in his mid 2000s heyday. The acoustic guitar and vocal interplay is playful, even vaguely mystical, while rock drums pound in the back of the mix and a classic church organ wails happily. Many other moments on the album hit the quiet acoustic folk sweet spot. “Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed” is delicate and beautiful, the relaxed swing of Gibson's acoustic guitar and voice only disturbed by polite oboe and trumpet. “Lion/Lamb” mixes a chilled bossa nova beat with dusty, tinkling piano, various wind instruments, and Gibson's always memorable vocal melodies. La Grande isn't your run of the mill singer/songwriter folk record. Gibson builds off her own past work and the spirited orchestral leanings of fellow Northwest musicians to make a multifaceted and emotionally rich album.