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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.