“So much work and thought went into every turn of phrase and every tiny shimmer of sound.” That is undoubtedly true listening to Laura Gibson’s fifth studio album Goners. It also added to the punchline when Gibson told the audience at her DC9 show that European press on her recent tour struggled to find a translation of the slang term she used as a title and pronounced in a more, well, juvenile fashion. It’s a funny reminder that you can control a lot of things in life, but you can’t control the world’s response—even when you’re careful.
The album is composed of fables that explore the expectations we set, or are set for us, and feelings of loss if we don’t meet them, don’t want to, or tragedy gets in the way. Gibson has said that the grief she explores on Goners is in part based on the loss of her father and wrestling with her own decisions about parenthood.
It’s clear Gibson is proud of what she’s achieved on Goners. She performed the album start to finish. While songs like “Domestication,” “Tenderness,” and the title track stood out, the album is so beautifully constructed it is best consumed whole—even live.
The seriousness, and often outright darkness, of this album, is in contrast to Gibson’s charming stage presence and easy laughter. Even up against challenging circumstances—exhaustion after a long flight in from Prague, missing a piano, and scrambling to secure a drum kit for the night—Gibson clearly enjoyed sharing Goners with an eager and attentive audience at DC9.
Following the full album performance, Gibson “came back” (the band hilariously simply huddled on the side of the stage) for an encore of “Not Harmless,” “Empire Builder” (both from her 2016 album Empire Builder), and a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” with assistance from opening act Dan Mangan.
Mangan started the night with a stripped-down solo set in support of his 2018 album More Or Less. The early crowd peppered Mangan with requests. He obliged by leaning out into the crowd for a campfire-style singalong of “Robots” from his 2009 release Nice, Nice, Very Nice.