Finally, this writer’s thirst for a new Laura Gibson record has been quenched. The wait at times since January 2012’s La Grande did feel at times interminable. Empire Builder comes with a story of its own, as the result of a close encounter and tragedy of sorts (a fire, including many destroyed possessions including songs). Where La Grande felt like an arrival of sorts, a true announcement of her talents, Empire Builder is the opportunity to consolidate that. She doesn’t even come close to failing. Laura Gibson is a superb song writer and this is all the proof that was needed. A four year wait, you say? All is forgiven. Taking the necessary time for a thing to be as it should, is a far underrated tactic these days that far more people should implement.
Gibson has used some fantastic musicians, known for various other projects. They colour her beautiful, delicate and heartfelt melodies with perfect precision. From opener ‘The Cause’ it’s clear that Gibson favours the creation of her own little world, affected by many but infected by nobody. The empire she is building is centred around her heart and her own vision. ‘The Cause’ makes you feel she was never away and the tight hug of her voice doesn’t let go once it has you in its grip again.
Gibson’s voice is oddly unique, a mix of a baby girl and a grown woman, and has an at times astonishing clarity. Her diction is priceless, injecting each syllable with the care it deserves, lending something of a Paul Simon-esque crispness to her own lyrics. Most of the tracks are heartfelt ballads, lyrics that paint delicate images of the feelings passing through the creator’s heart, mind and body.
There are adult lullabies aplenty here, Gibson almost mastering ‘the ballad.’ The more upbeat numbers are fewer, but the most uplifting and attention grabbing. This is music that shows the creator’s attention to detail all over it. If the listener takes the same time, there is little to not welcome inside your door. These are tracks to cherish and sit well as a 40-minute 10-track album. Let’s hope the follow up doesn’t take another 4 years.
The whole thing is pretty from start to finish. The rebuilding process, the empire in sight, is surely a forgone conclusion, though you can’t help but feel that her best work still lies ahead. For now, it’s a much needed return from a greatly underrated songwriter.