Basking in understated poignancy, Geoff Gibbons’ Shadow of a Stone EP is a potential sleeper hit on the indie folk scene. Inundated by lush production and lyric-focused arrangements, the Vancouver singer-songwriter’s intimate knowledge of what makes contemporary folk shimmer stands to demand an ear just as many of us are just about wrapping up our year-end best-of lists. Gibbons’ greatest strength comes in minimalistic, twinkling presentation that sets the focus on the stories that his songs represent. Whether he takes on the role of a first-person narrator or sets forth to craft a realm in sound from a bird’s eye view, each of the EP’s four tracks takes listeners on a distinctive, cohesive journey.
Released just five days before Remembrance Day, the album centers itself on themes of perseverance before or during service and what comes after. It culminates at its greatest in the rollicking Celtic arrangement for the EP’s central tune, ‘Please Remember Me’. Written through the eyes of a soldier saying farewell to their lover before deployment in World War II, it’s more sweet than bitter, capturing a certain nostalgia-glazed confidence and innocence that goes deftly hand-in-hand. that makes for an indelible listen. Elsewhere, titular album opener ‘Shadow of a Stone’ feels more autobiographical, with Gibbons laying down a rose for those who have lost their lives in war. ‘Soldier Soldier’, though, may carry the greatest poignancy of the bunch (and in turn, be the most exemplary folk song), unrelentingly putting forth the idea of government betrayal of those they have sent off to fight their battles. Things end more soothingly with the contemplative, meditative vibes of ‘The Other Side’.
Shadow of a Stone is not just another solid entry into Gibbons’ overarching catalog, but a distinct statement. Rarely does it seem that we are given the gift of concept albums in the modern age, let alone ones with concepts as pristine or powerful as what he lays out on the table here. If you are reading this piece, on this site, and have any reservations about giving this EP a listen, don’t. Shadow of a Stone is one of those special pieces of work where its only detractor is, really, being the length that it is — though, even then, it’s just enough for Gibbons to tell his story without emphasizing that “rambling” nature of a rambling troubadour.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)