You sweat profusely, jogging behind a moving train with luggage under both arms. You aren’t certain why the train merely slowed at your station without stopping, but you weren’t about to wait another week for the next one. You decide to ditch the bags, allowing you to barely hop aboard the caboose. You enter the car, and walk the narrow path between private compartments. A tender voice sings a melody that soars above the raucous rumbling . . .
The most potent truths are contained in the stories we tell, and what better medium than music do we have to convey those stories? Films show too much to the viewer, literature too little to the reader, while songs communicate in just the right capacity to the listener, free and able to digest those truths in the perfect mixture of passive and active consumption. Empire Builder is the newest full-length from Laura Gibson.
Gibson surrounds herself with good company — Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Dave Depper, Neko Case drummer Dan Hunt, and violinist Peter Broderick — to create compelling backdrops for her poetic stories, sung in a featherlight voice that softly pierces the senses with words from a heavy heart. The result is one of the most captivating and sonically innovative folk rock releases to ever spring into the world.
The record’s title is an homage to Amtrak’s Empire Builder, a train that travels the nature-filled expanse between Portland, Oregon (Gibson’s home) and the East Coast. The spirit of the record was conceived on that train, after leaving much of her life behind to start anew in New York City, and you can hear its influence in these expansive compositions. If you’re seeking poetic, melancholic folk rock, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)