Part of me feels a little sorry for Laura Gibson. Not only is she prone to being shoeboxed with the influx of female guitar bearing vocalists in music right now but she also shares a forename with the queen of them all. Fortunately for Gibson, the opening kicks and rolls of ‘La Grande’ mark the start of a third LP from an artist far more sinister than her apparent counterparts.
The windy undertones make this a bit more than your generic hoe down with Gibson clearly utilizing the wonders of production far more than a lot of folk contemporaries. Track 2, ‘Milk Heavy, Pollen-Eyed’ is a lyrical warmer with a muffled brass line rising up mod track. This song also has Gibson multi-tacking with a telephone line like vocal scratching underneath the surface complimenting the eriness of this record which is then made worse by the incidental Sims 2 like soundtrack to track 3, ‘Lion Lamb’. It feels like Laura Gibson finds her darker tones in a slightly disjointed and dated sound. The sort of music you’d hear seeping out of a dusty arcade. By the fourth offering (‘Skin Warming Skin’), the sounds are slightly tired; the bendy strings and choral backing vocals but it doesn’t stop ‘La Grande’ standing out from the crowd. As the LP moves on it feels like the claws start to creep out without you noticing. ‘Red Moon’ sounds like a ditty that could linger in dreams for a while. These idyllic melodies built for 60’s housewife aimed advertising thrown together with a far wiser lyrical ability. For me ‘Red Moon’ best demonstrates what this LP does so well, the irony and vacancy of the vocal create such a wonderfully unbalanced atmosphere. This is followed by ‘Crow Swallow’ which sounded like the record’s most obvious filler. Seconded by ‘The Fire’ however penultimate ‘Time Is Not’ takes the unsure feeling to a new level. Cathedral buzzing with robotic strums which starts to appear upbeat but occasionally takes the odd note off reminding you what Gibson does so brilliantly. The final track, ‘Feather Lungs’ is the best of the record. The silence of the recording booth can almost be heard fuzzing in the gaps from the piano. The track starts with what sounds like a post-war radio cutting then closes with it. Almost making the listener forget the bleakly brilliant ballad that was in the middle. It took the bittersweet sound and turned it into something far more intimate and personal.
Laura Gibson’s album is a silent attacker. The emotion bubbles beneath the surface and hides behind a Stepford Wives-esque insecurity that, in fact, masks the genuine heartache of this album. Some of the songs do seem a little generic but with the current trend it is hard to avoid. On the whole, ‘La Grande’ is a confident and subtly stirring LP that is surely the best work of Gibson’s career to date.
Release date: 09/01/12