Half of Portland seasons local folkie’s third album
Portlander Laura Gibson sings slow-moving and softly muted folk songs about the trials of life—the different burdens we all carry and the same end we all meet. On Beasts of Seasons, her third album and second for local label HUSH, the music shimmers and sparkles, fades and builds, thanks to producer Tucker Martine and a Who’s Who of the local scene. Horns and a singing saw weep tenderly on “Funeral Song” and Eyvind Kang’s viola flies like a kite in a strong wind during “Where Have All Your Good Words Gone?” Her backing band, however, work only to spotlight Gibson’s studied lyrics, lovely finger-picked guitar and curious vocals, which sound by turns brittle and bold. There’s a slight crack in her voice that imbues these songs with subtle resignation, but especially on openers “Shadows on Parade” and “Come by Storm,” the tempos are so languid and the melodies so subdued that the songs threaten to dissipate upon leaving the speakers. “Spirited” picks things up, and ironically, the second half, titled Funeral Songs, breathes needed life into the album, such that by the time “Sweet Deception” comes around with its halting acoustic guitar theme and 50s-style piano, this beast has become a true beauty.