Laura Gibson

If You Come to Greet Me (Hush)

There's a sound I like to think of as "back porch folk." It's similar to garage rock in that it probably isn't recorded on a porch, but it seems like it could've been. It's made by a bunch of unassuming folks, sitting around with instruments and an old tape deck, capturing tunes for their private enjoyment — an aesthetic heard on Laura Gibson's debut, If You Come to Greet Me. The Oregon resident, who grew up in a tiny logging town and got her start performing in nursing homes, sings in a delicate voice that's similar to '70s folkie Karen Dalton's in its heartbreaking precariousness. The crystalline beauty and razor-edged sadness of Gibson's tone are summarized in lines like, "Once I was a broken bottle/ Lying around in a crowded bar/ Waiting for a band to start again." Portland's Norfolk & Western adds plucked mandolins, caressed piano, and warbly singing throughout If You Come, fleshing out the pretty ennui. And just when it seems the bucolic beauty might become overwhelming, Gibson reels off the jaunty, Jolie Holland-ish "Small Town Parade" and the slyly humorous "Country, Country." Not since Canned Heat's "Going Up the Country" has fleeing the city sounded so right. Dan Strachota

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