Acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Laura Gibson has shared a second track from her new album, ‘Goners’, which will be released on October 26, 2018 via City Slang.“Domestication” comes accompanied with a cinematic new video, co-directed by Gibson and Alicia Rose, filmed in pastel hues that belie an uneasy narrative.
Gibson explains, “The song ‘Domestication’ took form as a fable, the story of wolf trying and failing to live as a woman. I was thinking a lot about shape-shifting. Wolves and dogs seemed to haunt my lyrics on ‘Goners.’ The fable form gave me the language and the bravery to explore more personal things. In short: Still, at times, though I know better, I’ll catch myself thinking in terms of what I should desire of womanhood instead of what I actually desire. I catch myself feeling I am failing at something, at some ideal I was never actually aiming for. I finished these lyrics a year ago. It’s strange to release the song now, when it feels so much is coming to a head. So much has cracked open for women, in the year since writing ‘Domestication.’ So much remains the same.
Though I’d meant ‘domestication’ in the animal sense, when it came time to make the video, I liked the idea of using the term in the homemaking sense. I’d been obsessed with this photo I’d found of the pastel women of the FLDS cult, and wanted to build a world and a story around the aesthetic, something like the speculative societies of Margaret Atwood or Ursula Le Guin. At the end of the story, I wanted the women to act like wolves.”
‘Goners’ found its name in the first line she wrote in the bleak beginning of 2017: “If we’re already goners, why wait any longer, for something to crack open”. That line became a lyric in the title track. It also became a sort of mantra.“I’d known for a long time that I wanted to make a record about grief. In some ways, every song I’ve ever written has something to do with grief. This time around, I felt compelled to stare into the abyss. ‘Goners’ seemed an apt title because it speaks of both the future and the past. The word is used for two types of people: those who lose themselves in the ones they love, and those whose deaths are imminent.”
Much of ‘Goners’ explores the loss of her father as a teenager, and her wrestling with the decision of whether or not to become a parent herself. “My days are charged. Potential future grief forces me to reckon with past grief. These were two points on a map of grief. I wanted to explore the territory between them.” It is some of Gibson’s finest work, and also her strangest. There are hauntings and transformation, odd birds and harbingers. Women become wolves, men metamorphose into machines, ghost-children wave in the rearview mirror, a scar becomes a vessel for memory. Her lyrics are populated with sharp objects: a needle, a thistle, a sickle, a scythe, claws and animal teeth.“I wanted the songs to feel like fables, to unfold with dream logic.”
This is the first record Gibson has made after completing a MFA in writing, and her language has never felt more alive, her storytelling sharper, her imagination looser. It is a record for thinkers and feelers, for the fierce and also the weary, and despite its darkness, she has succeeded in making a work of radical hope.
Gibson co-produced ‘Goners’ with engineer and friend John Askew, with whom she’d also collaborated on her 2016 album, ‘Empire Builder’, in his Portland, OR, studio. The songs began as simple demos, but Gibson kept returning to the studio to tinker, until she realized these demos had become a record. She ditched her guitar on half the songs, and instead played piano and Wurlitzer. Gibson enlisted a number of long time collaborators, including guitarist/synth extraordinaire Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie), drummer and found-sound percussionist Dan Hunt (Neko Case), and stand-up bassist Nate Query (The Decemberists); then built horn and woodwind arrangements with Kelly Pratt (St. Vincent and David Byrne, Father John Misty) and imaginative string parts with Kyleen King (Stephen Malkmus, Case/Lang/Veirs).
Laura Gibson UK tour dates:
Nov 13 – London @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank (w/Dan Mangan)