Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
What always gets wondered when Laura Gibson's here, around us, just exuding that peacefulness - a shyness that is hesitant peacefulness - is where her dresses have been, what their history is. It's easy to think about their long and prosperous lives, filled with afternoon socials in the town squares of cities that don't exist in the same way that they now exist, if they do at all. These dresses have memories, we think, of the first color television sets, of sitting there on a carpeted floor in front of the living room radio, believing what Orson Welles was telling the world about an alien invasion. These dresses probably have so much caked in piecrust batter, from countless days cooking in a hot-ass kitchen - the apron not catching all of the excess and the smears. They seem to be gentle and as if they've been through a dozen owners or so, survived a hundred years in impeccable shape. She wears them - these breezy, flowered and non-flowered prints - religiously, and they hang down, well past the middle of the shin. They are pretty and antique, as if they could tell you so many unbelievable stories about the souls of those who have inhabited them, a variation of the old idea of if these walls could talk, the things they could tell you. They've been washed and dried by the wind more times than they could possibly remember anymore. They've been the choice attire to join the bushel basket and the hands and arms in the apple orchard on a crisp autumn afternoon for a fruit picking - the selected to be cored, peeled and used in one of those tasty pies. Gibson, a Portland resident with a pastoral voice that seems to echo with the sounds of lost loved ones, the lights of love and haunting gorgeousness, all siphoned through an angelic filter that begs all to listen intently as her heart speaks, is there in the orchard, in the kitchen, receiving these signals from past eras and forgotten people. They shine through her new words and they speak of an old, elder everlasting beauty - the same as her simple, flowing dresses. Gibson and Ethan Rose released a record this year entitled "Bridge Carols," that was recorded in fields, forests and basements, and it sounds as if two people were navigating through such untapped past remembrances and sounds that they've always had within them that they're discovering like fossils and geodes. It's as if, under a silent approach, two people have come upon a mother fox licking her baby clean with her tongue, no more than two feet in front of them, not bashful and unaware that any scary humans were watching. Gibson sings about stars and dry bones, making sounds that she's likely never heard coming from her mouth prior to learning how to properly speak - intelligible words, partial phrases, and full sentences as an infant. They are sounds and music that are coming to both Gibson and Rose through luck and mysterious ways that defy time and period and are just showing up inside them. They seem to come from out of the clouds, arriving to them with their eyes lodged tightly shut, out of the brightness and out of the darkness. It's almost like the same place for these songs of majestic melodies and touching connections to feelings that have stayed hidden for a long, long time. They are here now, gathering form.