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Laura Gibson's new album, La Grande, is built around a surprising musical contrast: Her hushed voice remains as quiet as ever, but her songs are louder and more complex. Although simplicity and lack of volume characterize Gibson's earlier work, her music today feels bigger without sacrificing intimacy: It meditates on mortality, carrying a weight of seriousness without being heavy. It's dark, but dispensed with a light touch.
La Grande sounds just the way it's pronounced: grand. She worked with notable artists on the album, including members of The Dodos and The Decemberists, yet La Grande never overshadows its unique textures — every sound, from glockenspiel to muted guitar picking, can be heard distinctly, and each voice comes through in the harmonies. Carefully layered and delicately balanced, La Grande is an album of rare poise and grace, but also more than a few surprises.