LAURA GIBSON (solo)

Laura Gibson

Empire Builder, Laura Gibson’s second record for Barsuk/City Slang, and fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route Laura took while moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school, to move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her long-time boyfriend. Out of her comfort zone, she found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her 5th floor apartment for the first two months. Then, on March 26th, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion which killed two people and left many homeless.
Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move. She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that Empire Builder stands as her most personal record to date.
But while the making of the album was cathartic, it’s not just an auto-biographical mirror-gazing exercise. Through her fiction studies in grad school, Gibson has found her legs as a storyteller and these songs hit hard, separate from their backstory: it’s a huge leap forward for Gibson as a songwriter, composer and producer. Equally raw and focused, Empire Builder captures a life blown open, an individual mid-transformation. Gibson gathered a stellar band of old friends to complement her songs: guitarist/bassist Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie, Menomena), drummer/percussionist Dan Hunt (Neko Case) and composer/violinist Peter Broderick. Other contributors include Nate Query of the Decemberists and vocalist Alela Diane. Gibson co-produced the record with John Askew (The Dodos, Neko Case), spending her school breaks in his home studio and in Broderick’s studio on the Oregon Coast.

Empire Builder grapples with independence, womanhood, solitude, connection and aloneness. Amidst trauma, loss and recovery, she rediscovered songwriting as a means of understanding her own life and choices. If Gibson has a thesis, it’s perhaps within the final words of the title track: “Hurry up and lose me / Hurry up and find me again.” With clear-eyed honesty, urgency and warmth, Empire Builder succeeds in capturing the moment between loss and rediscovery.

Lenore.

The coming together of Joy Pearson and Rebecca Marie Miller as Portland’s newest folk outfit, Lenore, is serendipitous, to say the least. After individually hitting rock bottom — Pearson following her divorce and Miller after a period of destitution in LA — the pair separately turned to songwriting in the search for a still point in their turning worlds.

After several years of lending their abilities to other projects, including Saddle Creek’s The Mynabirds, and Portland’s own The High Water Jazz Band, they finally found themselves spinning on the same axis when a chance meeting through a mutual friend, Pokey LaFarge, sparked an immediate connection. A drunken night ensued, and before they’d even scoped each other’s material, they had committed.

Now, just under two years since that fateful night, and Lenore can boast having performed at legendary Pacific Northwest venues including Mississippi Studios, Aladdin Theater, and Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, as well as the Sunset Tavern, Triple Door, and Tractor Tavern in Seattle. They've opened for the likes of Eric Bachmann, Laura Gibson, and ex-collaborators, The Mynabirds, and have shared the stage with Peter Buck (R.E.M.), as well as Chris Funk and Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists).

Since Lenore's formation, Miller and Pearson have gained full-time collaborators in seasoned Portland musicians Edward Cameron (classical guitar) and Jessie Dettwiler (cello), who have contributed significantly to the evolution of Lenore's sound — a melancholic blend of harmony-driven folk with an ever present silver lining.

Lenore began recording their self-titled debut album in January with producer John Askew for expected release in September 2017. Pre-order: www.lenoresings.com/preorder

$16 ADV / $18 DOS

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