Laura Gibson | Beasts of Seasons CD Review

Laura Gibson Beasts of SeasonLaura Gibson
Beasts of Seasons
Hush Records

Midwesterners need few words to describe the seasonal bitterness laid upon them this time of year. Luckily, locals have a Garden of Eden from which to hand-pick shows this April, making the last blasts of winter somewhat bearable.

Disheartened Iowans hopefully anticipating a lamb this spring may enjoy Laura Gibson’s newest flower, aptly entitled Beasts of Seasons (Hush Records). And if in the flocking mood on April 8th, one can see Gibson display her talents on the weathered stage of the Picador.

If you haven’t heard Gibson, the folk/blues artist out of Portland has a delicate, untouched tone that seems hard to find anymore. The soft, mysterious quality of her voice makes every song thoughtful and inspired by a whimsical, almost child-like inner monologue. Keeping it simple doesn’t seem so stupid if it means putting out an album as touching as her February 24th release, Beasts of Seasons.

Artists like Caroline Smith and Jolie Holland (circa Escondida and Catalpa) come to mind in ability to capture an audience with little more than sensual vocal chords and a guitar to back. Beasts of Seasons transitions from said simplicity to more heavily orchestrated pieces including bells, banjos, trumpets, pianos and clarinets.

Though many of the songs have a slower tempo, the variance in instrumental sound comes from the numerous collaborators, including Grammy-nominated producer Tucker Martine, Laura Veirs, Adam Selzer (M. Ward, Norfolk and Western), Rachel Blumberg (M. Ward, Bright Eyes), Nate Query (The Decemberists), Danny Seim (Menomena) and several others. Gibson alone is pleasing, but matching her with such a list surely makes for a conversation catalyst.

Rather than layering several artist’s individual takes, most sections were recorded live at one time. The beauty in making a well-produced album with the raw sound attained from a single live recording is that it translates well to the stage.

If the collaboration lineup wasn’t indication enough, you won’t be hearing this one after M.I.A. at any of the local dance parties. This album will be well-received on a grey day spent in one’s head, or a temperate spring afternoon wading through puddles under budding trees on the cozy streets of Iowa City. If that’s not in your book of things to do, just go see Gibson at the Picador on Wednesday, April 8, when she opens for Damien Jurado.

Suggested starting track: “Spirited”