This review was originally published at Gold Flake Paint.
Laura Gibson’s “La Grande” is, indeed, quite grand. In addition, the French-title lends an air of elegance that the album certainly lives up to. This is an album that expands like a hot air balloon, fueled by flame that burns hot but certainly not with the power of a machine. There’s a naturalness and simplicity to Gibson’s style that remains wild, if a bit brutal.
Sighing ethereal hums on album opener ‘La Grande’ echos the natural imagery of the lyrics, sounding like the wind in the trees. Gibson’s voice frolics above rolling drums and strangely arresting lyrics like “We’ve covered our hands in the bone white clay/ And we’ve shaken the dust from every boot and spur”, creating images that are both vivid and unreal. With a touch of the honey vocals that will remind any avid female-vocalist fans of Zoe Avi, Gibson differs from her only in the complexities of the instrumentals in her songs and in the mysticism in her lyrics.
The slow stately march of ‘The Rushing Dark’ with waterfalling harmonies and scratchy white noise, almost sounds like a battle hymn or marching song than a recently released folk-pop track. ‘Skin Warming Skin’ may very well be one of the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard, as Gibson takes the mundane and reveals the inner loveliness of an act so obscure, but so meaningful.
The samba sounds of ‘Red Moon’ are delightfully offset by some falsetto crooning, a feature that she repeatedly employs throughout the album with great success. Nearly every song here could double as a lullaby due to this feature, the tender way that the tracks are sung is a telling trace of a vocalist who adores her craft. Gibson seems to truly understand the process of laying out an album, as both the opener and closer are stunning, and prompt me to listen back through it each time. The whispered loneliness of ‘Feather Lungs‘ unfurls wings of piano and metaphors as delicate as lace.
As grand and expansive as this record is, it also remains intimate, a true feat. Give this album a listen if you appreciate music that supersedes the desire for fame or money and stems from a place of craftsmanship, appreciation, and true talent.