Laura Gibson – La Grande (City Slang)



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

  1. Wow, what a stupendously sexist review! Was the Stepford Wives reference for a bet? I’m off to listen to some ‘man with guitar’ music, that’s my favourite genre as well.

  2. I was having a hard time understanding where ‘Wow’ was coming from until I got to the conclusion, which is repulsive. In the introduction you even admit you feel sorry for Gibson because her gender pigeonholes her, but then you belittle her BECAUSE OF HER GENDER in the final sentence. Oh yes, female guitar players – how generic and awful. Nothing like male guitar players, who somehow manage to play the same instrument yet sound completely different from one another, and all because they lack a vagina. What a talent.

  3. I don’t think Duncan ‘meant’ to be sexist. Ie I think he meant to say that there are quite alot of girls with guitars out there doing a similiarish thing, rather than that it is generic because she’s a woman. I will get a clarification from him, it’s probably as much my fault for not asking him to change the wording on that.

  4. I was simply saying its a crowded genre therefore songs can become generic because there is a lot like it. Its the same for males like Marcus Foster/Ben Howard. The Stepford Wives reference was purely to some of the sampling that was similar to old style advertising with domestic goddesses. I will change the wording but I really meant no offence by mentioning that this album has a hard task standing out when there are a lot of female soloists doing a similar thing. But it does stand out.

  5. How ridiculous that this is being interpreted as sexist. As the reviewer has unfortunately had to clarify girls with guitars are a genre, that is full of cliches and is continually becoming generic. Just like any genre. Calm down.

  6. As it was brought to my attention, I have edited this piece. Whilst I still think Duncan was obviously referring to a ‘trend’ of music rather than necessarily a ‘sex’, in a light hearted manner. I do think it’s important not to even appear to be generalising based on anyone’s gender.

    But I still think it’s unfair to tar the entire site as some have sought to do on this one piece, or even their misreading of one line in this piece.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.