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Laura Gibson's 'Goners' Ruminates On A Distant Past And Uncertain Future

Laura Gibson's new album, <em>Goners</em>, comes out Oct. 26 on Barsuk Records.
Parker Fitzgerald
Courtesy of the artist
Laura Gibson's new album, Goners, comes out Oct. 26 on Barsuk Records.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Laura Gibson made her name in music's eerily quiet places, through creaky whispers and dusty, inward-facing laments. She's always sung with deep restraint and deeper warmth, all the better to draw you in and compel you to don headphones and drown out the world. But she's also grown bolder as she's transformed from lone acoustic singer-songwriter to full-blown bandleader, while taking on worldlier themes and ever-grander instrumentation.

Gibson's fifth solo album, Goners, continues in that direction: In a gripping collection of songs about accountability and grief, she's diversified her arrangements to allow for everything from barren ballads to grandiose stormers that boom and swirl. "Domestication," the album's first single, is a thematically and sonically bold mission statement about getting along in the world as a woman, and it's surrounded by songs that can be brooding and haunting or lilting and sweet, sometimes all at once. (This is Gibson's first record since she got her MFA in writing, and it shows in her vivid and evocative lyrics.)

The singer wrote and recorded Goners during a time of turmoil and transition, both in her life and in the world at large, and the album carries the weight of some serious rumination about her distant past and uncertain future: "If we're already goners," she sings in the title track, "Why wait any longer for something to crack open?" But Gibson remains a boundlessly wise and warm interrogator, shining a light bright enough to lead out of even Goners' darkest depths.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)