Laura Gibson’s fourth record »Empire Builder« was preceded by two new beginnings: There was the intended one (moving from Portland, Oregon to New York City in order to study creative writing) and the unintended one: a gas explosion in her apartment that thankfully left her unharmed but destroyed all her belongings, including instruments and song lyrics. The fact that Laura Gibson was quickly able to compensate this loss is impressively illustrated through her new record »Empire Builder«. Empathic country ballads are taking turns with melancholic folk songs, small observations and big ones as well as almost bombastic moments have all merged into ten catchy tracks. In addition to Nate Query of The Decemberists, Alela Diane supported her in the studio. However, in contrast to Alela Diane’s folky fairyness that inevitably evokes protective instincts, Laura Gibson appears poised and confident. Her band, consisting of Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie), Dan Hunt (Neko Case) and Peter Broderick, knows exactly how to effectively put her versatile and manifold songwriting in the limelight. In front of a sky full of violins, Laura Gibson sometimes acts dreamy, sometimes cute or almost coolly unagitated, at other parts even lascivious. In a both magical and masterful manner, Gibson exhausts her musical talents as well as her emotional inner life – and despite so many befriended helpers, she always remains true to herself.