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La Grande

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 24, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

La Grande (pronounced in the way of the American West, without any hint of French inflection--''luh grand'') is a town just east of the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon where native Oregonian Laura Gibson found inspiration while writing the songs that would become her new album of the same name. Gibson describes La Grande as a place that ''people usually pass through on their way to somewhere else, but which contains a certain gravity, a curious energy.'' She's done more than her own fair share of traveling, playing over 200 shows in North America, Europe and Asia since the release of 2009's acclaimed Beasts of Seasons (Hush Records), and La Grande is, in part, an album about journeys and transitions. The energy of the title track kicks off the record with a battering ram beat, hitting the ground like a herd of galloping horses. With the Tropicalia pulse, dirt-kicking distortion, whimsical woodwinds and heart murmur hooks on 'Lion/Lamb,'' and rail-jumping rhythms, majestic melodies and beyond-the-grave broadcasting of ''The Rushing Dark,'' La Grande plays like an imaginary film score. It's an album about strength and confidence--about the tension between wildness and domesticity and the courage required to embark upon either path, about asserting one's will rather than submitting -- and it's a significant departure from Beasts' subtle meditations on frailty.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 24, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B006DICVLY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,911 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Red on Black TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 31, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This time last year musical proceedings were kicked off with the release of the The Decemberists "King is dead" an album of warm Americana from Portland Oregon's finest. Thus it is entirely appropriate that Laura Gibson a former Decemberist with one of the loveliest voices this side of that other great Portlander Laura Viers should commence 2012 with a feast of occasionally left field low key roots folk music which is guaranteed to captivate listeners. "La Grande" is actually a small town in Eastern Oregon a name given to it by early French settlers. It is a place where Gibson informs us that "people usually pass through on their way to somewhere else, but which contains a certain gravity, a curious energy.". It is this rustic tradition which she seeks to evoke on the albums cover as she stands snuggly wrapped in an old Indian blanket in a woodland settling with a blazing fire throwing shapes into the night. The albums title track is full of old western imagery and layered with pounding tribal drums, whispered ghostly voices and Link Wray style guitars giving it a spookiness which makes it a great start. In a slightly weird way you sense that the song "Lion/Lamb" could also have figured on a a South Pacific out-takes album with its slightly Polynesian feel but its a sparkling little song, although it is the more straightforward acoustic beauty of "Milk-Heavy. Pollen-Eyed" where Gibson's honey vocal is heartbreaking in its plaintive quality, weaving in and out of what is a sumptuous tune. More North West coast melancholy is contained in "Skin warming skin" which builds to a hypnotic choral chorus which this reviewer would have been perfectly content for Ms Gibson to extend by a least a couple of minutes.Read more ›
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Another great album by Laura Gibson. If you liked "If You Come to Greet Me" and "Beasts Of Seasons, get this one and enjoy! Beautiful voice and music, and great songs.
I heard her music first on "NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts Podcast" (video podcast) and since I can't stop listening. Check that free video, if you're a already a fan or want to discover her music.
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I'm not good at reviewing music because for me it's all about how it "speaks to my spirit" and I know that's a bit woo-woo. But that said, La Grande definitely speaks to me. I am a bit of a music-phile: I have stuff from such a variety of artists that I could never pigeon-hole what I like into one genre. The one thing I ALWAYS look for is music that is unique, that is out of the box without being weird, or so weird that I can't relate to it. This album fits that bill. This is one of my favorite musical purchases of 2013. I love it.
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This is a great one, even better than the others. It feels more forceful, despite all the quiet and calm restraint, more confident or at least it contains more tension and contradiction. It feels a little more confrontational? In any case, what's always been wonderful about Laura's work--the slippery surprises of her lyrics, the melodies, the really unique and smart phrasing--is even better, here. It makes a person feel and think.
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Format: Audio CD
I can't think of any superlatives that would do justice to the incredible beauty, sensitivity, warmth and musical genius of Ms. Gibson. Just buy this, immediately! And thank whatever gods you believe in that she's here.
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