Music Hall of Williamsburg
David Bazan

David Bazan

Laura Gibson

Thu, July 7, 2016

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$22 advance / $25 day of show

This event is 18 and over

David Bazan
David Bazan
During transition, there is the urge to look backwards to figure out where we are supposed to go. It can be nostalgic; the golden haze that surrounds our selective memory. Sweet moments that make up our individual narratives, or the stories we tell each other to reinforce our collective identity.

But that glance backwards can distract us from where we are now and what it really means; from the sea change, from the tide that sweeps what we know away and leaves us unencumbered, shivering, and beginning again.

Care is that tide. The one that sneaks up behind us and washes everything away. That strips us of our armor and stops us mid-sentence. That brings us back to where we are.

As much of a follow-up to 2005's synth-heavy "Headphones" album as it is to last year's Blanco, Care also finds Bazan getting back to the calm minimalism of early Pedro The Lion. Produced, recorded, and mixed by Bazan and legendary Oregon-based producer Richard Swift, bare synthesizers dominate the tracks, giving Care an intimate, personal sound. The vocals are close, mirroring the experience from the front seat at a house show. Steady, sparse beats tie the ten tracks together, thrumming a boom-tap, boom-tap like a thread.

Care creates vignettes with characters that are both diverse and intertwined. The title track is the anthem and mission statement for the album; a plea for empathy drawn as much from the state of the political world as the personal one. It reminds us that as we get older we can be more careless, that as we grow we can also retreat into ourselves and forget the simple truth that other people matter. It is a call to the simplest route to fidelity - to care more.

But the road to being present, the call to the task of being ultimately kind, is not easy. Care fights with itself, pulling tracks from Bazan Monthly Vol 1. Religious imagery haunts secular thoughts on "Permanent Record", while "Sparkling Water" mourns the quiet death of distance where there was once intimacy. Later, "Inner Lives" tiptoes past the temptation to settle for comfort instead of closeness.

"Keep Trying" is the clearest call to action. A track you'd be forgiven for reading as an interpersonal story, but would then miss the universal truth within it, the chorus repeats:

Sometimes love isn't all that it's cracked up to be

Keep trying

With humming synthesizers bolstered by Swift's signature warble and fade, "Keep Trying" reiterates the core of Care - that we're too easily distracted from what's real and lasting in favor of what is easy and accessible. That what we do to each other is what we do to the world. That some imperfect things are worth preserving.

As Bazan moves forward with a new chapter as a solo performer and a solo artist, this record is a ballast against what would be so easy to do - to isolate. It is a ringing commitment to see things for what they are and to protect what is left. To love better.

Even if it isn't what it's cracked up to be.
Laura Gibson
Empire Builder, Laura Gibson’s second record for Barsuk/City Slang, and fourth LP, is named for the Amtrak route Laura took while moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in the summer of 2014, after deciding to enter graduate school, to move away from a supportive community, a close-knit family and her long-time boyfriend. Out of her comfort zone, she found even more of a challenge than she’d envisioned. Immediately upon arrival, she broke her foot and barely left her 5th floor apartment for the first two months. Then, on March 26th, 2015, her East Village building burned to the ground in a horrific gas explosion which killed two people and left many homeless.

Gibson escaped from her apartment unharmed, but lost everything: all identification, eyeglasses, musical instruments, years of notebooks and every word she had written in response to her move. She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she’d lost. A financial recovery was made possible with help and support from hundreds of friends, fans and strangers. It’s no surprise that Empire Builder stands as her most personal record to date.

But while the making of the album was cathartic, it’s not just an auto-biographical mirror-gazing exercise. Through her fiction studies in grad school, Gibson has found her legs as a storyteller and these songs hit hard, separate from their backstory: it’s a huge leap forward for Gibson as a songwriter, composer and producer. Equally raw and focused, Empire Builder captures a life blown open, an individual mid-transformation. Gibson gathered a stellar band of old friends to complement her songs: guitarist/bassist Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie, Menomena), drummer/percussionist Dan Hunt (Neko Case) and composer/violinist Peter Broderick. Other contributors include Nate Query of the Decemberists and vocalist Alela Diane. Gibson co-produced the record with John Askew (The Dodos, Neko Case), spending her school breaks in his home studio and in Broderick’s studio on the Oregon Coast.

Empire Builder grapples with independence, womanhood, solitude, connection and aloneness. Amidst trauma, loss and recovery, she rediscovered songwriting as a means of understanding her own life and choices. If Gibson has a thesis, it’s perhaps within the final words of the title track: “Hurry up and lose me / Hurry up and find me again.” With clear-eyed honesty, urgency and warmth, Empire Builder succeeds in capturing the moment between loss and rediscovery.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/