Beasts of Season (2.09, Hush Records)
Byline: Beautifully subdued masterpiece from the gem of the Northwest
For: Julie Doiron, Colin Meloy, Sarah Hammond
Beasts of Seasons is a beautifully subtle, or a subtlety beautiful, record from Portland's most precious singer/songwriter. Back from a whirlwind tour supporting Decemberists and Portland's native George Byron, Colin Meloy, Laura Gibson seems to have taken a few cues from her much fawned over tour mate. But where Colin Meloy gets his kicks from overly verbose, thesaurus nerd browbeating, Laura's simple songs are much more beautiful and much more elegant. Beasts of Season opens with the haunting "Shadows on Parade" that unfolds from a simple guitar line with layers of distortion and feedback just beneath the surface, to a sprawling 7 minute odyssey in which Laura's frail yet clear voice floats up from the depths in order to save you from despair. Laura's velvety, smokey voice is the vehicle that propels the album forward, never raising above a polite croon it rises clear above her simple guitar lines and beautifully subdued instrumentation from her HUSH records counterparts as well as other Portland luminaries, guests include members of: Norfolk and Western, The Decemberists, Eyvind Kang (on violin!), Menomena, and Laura Gibson. Oh to be talented and well liked in Portland. The album is broken into two parts: (I) Communion Songs, and (II) Funeral Songs, in her own words Laura describes the pairing as, "in looking back over these songs, I found two themes arising; First, reaching towards something outside of ourselves, be it a lover or god or family (Communion Songs) and second, dealing with the idea of ultimate aloneness and acceptance (Funeral Songs)." Could Laura Gibson also be one of the kindest, most affable people making music right now? The verdict is still out but I would put her on top of my list.