Daughter of a forest ranger and town kindergarten teacher, Laura Gibson’s root runs deep in the small coastal logging town of Coquille, Oregon. An outsider to the burgeoning Portland music scene, Gibson’s early choice of venues (an AIDS hospice here, a kindergarten class there) and complete lack of music scene knowledge (she listens to very little recorded music) may have confused the erstwhile veterans, but her homespun, ginger sincerity, her enchanting voice, and her mature songwriting won ‘em all over in a heartbeat.
Listening to If You Come To Greet Me, it’s immediately apparent something magical happened at Portland’s Typefoundry Recording Studio in the spring of 2006 with the capable assistance of Adam Selzer (Norfolk and Western) behind the board. Gibson demonstrates a confident fingerpicking style while bathing the punctuated notes in her languorous vocal phrasing. It’s haunting. And it’s perfectly bolstered with gorgeous, warm, orchestral arrangements that never detract from the melodic backbone of Gibson’s songwriting. By the end of the sessions, almost all the members of Norfolk and Western (Adam Selzer - vocal, electric guitar, Rachel Blumberg - drums, Peter Broderick – viola, saw, and Cory Gray - trumpet, piano) enthusiastically lent performances. The latter two were so pleased with the outcome they signed up to back Gibson whenever their schedules allowed. Wayne Miller filled out the troupe with tasteful, loping upright bass lines and Alex James (Dolorean) stopped in to sing a few bars.
If You Come To Greet Me demonstrates a rich tapestry of emotion over nine songs--hope, ennui, reflection, inspiration, loneliness, happiness and yearning--all stitched together with a steady songwriting hand, where imagery dovetails with melody in an irresistible way: “And I could be the queen of our small town parade / You could be the leader of a bold marching band / You could play the drum / And I could wave my hand / For the crowd.” One can almost conjure up mainstreet Coquille, Oregon, or for that matter Hometown, Anyplace, where the people, sky and land are all a little more well-acquainted, for better and for worse, and the human dramas unfold ordinary and extraordinary, depending on how you look at it.