Laura Gibson’s fifth album, Goners, is largely about grief, not the sort of thing that immediately gets one tapping their toes. Yet from dealing with the loss of her father while only a teenager to wrestling with the idea of her own parenthood, Gibson has created something quite extraordinary.
Opening with ‘I Carry Water’, keyboard-based, fragile, initially sounding like it could break into a thousand little pieces. The treated piano on the second verse sounds almost normal for a moment amidst the loops. Vocals are layered on top of vocals creating a ghostly choir. “There was a lot of experimentation, stacking vocals and using tape loops to transform sounds,” Gibson said.
Domestication is less about trying to be different and more about trying to find a deeper form of communication, one that’s less tied to the normal ways of doing things. Instead of creating a challenging work, what Gibson has done is find a new way to deal with issues that often aren’t discussed.
It takes until the third track, ‘Slow Joke Grin’ to hear a normal plucked guitar. Yet other instruments are treated, continuing the slightly off-kilter effect. Posing a question that isn’t answerable, Goners asks, “Here comes the end of the future. If we’re already goners why wait any longer for something to crack open?” What makes this music unique is the way the odd bits and pieces are gathered to create a whole that is both folk and not simultaneously, gently off kilter in a most appealing way.
The relative normalcy of ‘Performers’ is under laid with a bed of horns and strings that are both grounding and slightly off-centre. Piano treatments make ‘Marjory’ sound old and faraway as Gibson comes to grips with death and dying. While the closing track, ‘I Don’t Want Your Voice To Move Me’, offers little to cling to, “Honey all I know of hope is throwing stones into the void.”
Laura Gibson’s Goners is something quite unique. Both musically and lyrically it takes chances. Rather than making it less appealing it only makes it more so. Taking chances has never been more appealing.