Although Laura Gibson's engaging and challenging music owes as much to jazz as it does to any notion of folk. La Grande, her recently released sophomore effort, is a collection that laces those sounds with a bit of atmospheric rock.
Just waking up before the long drive from Marfa to Austin, and in anticipation of tonight's performance at Dan's Silverleaf, Gibson needed a couple sips of coffee before talking about her friendship with Colin Meloy of the Decemberists and why she's happy to be in Texas for Valentine's Day.
You've got a long drive ahead of you from Marfa to Austin. Yes, it's going to be a long day. Sometimes, I can sleep, but I have some podcasts that I can listen to as well. I also have a couple of books to read.
What is the best book you've read recently? Right now, I am reading Bluets by Maggie Nelson. It's a really great book given to me by a friend in Portland. It's a beautiful book that is almost poetry.
By the time you get to Austin, won't it be time for sound check? Hopefully, we'll get into Austin a little before sound check. We need to find some good Tex-Mex for dinner.
You should go to Chuy's. I will look that up when we get there. I'll find it.
Being from Portland, do you think the rainy weather spurs artistic creativity? I think that's a big part of it. You have that long, grey winter and you get cabin fever. You get really elated for the spring and summer. I think Portland is a very creative area.
That area also has a very high rate of suicide. That's part of it as well. The weather there doesn't affect me that way, but when it rains for six months out of the year, that is going to affect some people.
How was the show last night in Marfa? It was great. We played this bookstore and art gallery and the audience was really cool. Have you been to Marfa? It's such a good town.The gallery was amazing. We played in the bookstore and then toured the gallery.The audience all moved to the galleria with us after the show.
Your music is often labeled folk, but isn't it just as much jazz? Yes, I think it can cause some misunderstandings for people in the audience who think I am going to play traditional folk music. My music can really test people in that way. That being said, I certainly don't run from being labeled a folk singer.
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How have you grown as a songwriter from your first album to the recently released La Grande? I think I take more risks now. I think I am more solid in my imagery. I think writing outside of my home has really helped me as a lyricist, in my ability to use words. I also think thematically I am maturing. The narration on the new album is more vivid.
Are you a more confident songwriter? Yes, I think very much so.
On your bio, someone wrote, "Gibson's music alights on a branch of the music tree that no one else has found." Is your music that singular? Oh gosh, I didn't write that. But I try to do what I do and be myself.
One critic said the new album is all about journeys and transitions. Do you agree with that? Yes, in a lot of ways, but what I am writing about are internal journeys.
You're spending Valentine's Day in Texas. Would you rather be someplace else? I've never played a show on Valentine's Day, so I am very excited to play in Denton. The show is going to be special. I am going to do some Valentine-related covers.
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Do you have a special Valentine? Yes, I do, but he is back in Portland.
You are good friends with Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. Is talking to him like talking to a dictionary? [Laughs] He's a very, very brilliant person. I've learned a lot from him. He took me on the road with him. He's very kind. He has incredible confidence on stage and he has such a great relationship with his audience.
Laura Gibson performs with Breathe Owl Breathe tonight, February 14, at Dan's Silverleaf.