Thursday, March 8, 2012

Laura Gibson's splendid kitchen-sink folk rock

Posted By on 03.08.12 at 02:30 PM

Laura Gibson
  • Laura Gibson
Portland singer Laura Gibson, who rolls into town for a gig at the Hideout on Friday night, is hardly the only artist who borrows the singular quaver of Billie Holiday but can't match her emotional impact or improvisational genius. In the past that's been the biggest hurdle preventing me from giving two hoots about Gibson's music, but she's finally gotten through to me with her new record, La Grande (Barsuk)—her fragile folk-pop melodies are surrounded by some downright gorgeous and often inventive kitchen-sink arrangements, and (just as important) she's toned down the affectation.

In some cases Gibson plays and sings just about everything, but for the tunes where she doesn't she enlisted a large cast to help out, including members of Calexico, the Decemberists, and the Dodos; from track to track the songs inhabit one wonderfully idiosyncratic sound world after another. Gibson is credited with guitar, percussion, pump organ, marimba, vibraphone, piano, and bass. "Lion/Lamb" does a kind of bossa nova/exotica blend, "The Rushing Dark" has an ethereal lullaby vibe enhanced by well-deployed lo-fi techniques, "The Fire" gooses a two-beat white-gospel stomp with tack piano, and "Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed" gets a sweet melancholy partly from gorgeous clarinet and French horn lines. Below you can check out the equally beguiling title track.

Laura Gibson, "La Grande"

photo: Parker Fitzgerald

Today's playlist:

Sherman Irby Quartet, Live at the Otto Club (Black Warrior)
Maisa, Canção do Amor Mais Triste (Som Livre)
Roy Harper, Flat Baroque and Berserk (Science Friction)
Mahmoud Ahmed, Ethiopiques 26: Mahmoud Ahmed & Imperial Bodyguard Band 1972-74 (Buda)
Jan Johansson, 8 Bitar Johansson/Innertrio (Heptagon)

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