la grande (pronounced in the way of the american west, without any hint of french inflection - 'luh grand') is a town just east of the wallowa valley in northeastern oregon where native oregonian laura gibson found inspiration while writing the songs that would become her new album of the same name. the energy of the title track kicks off the record with a battering ram beat, hitting the ground like a herd of galloping horses. with the tropicalia pulse, dirt-kicking distortion, whimsical woodwinds and heart murmur hooks on 'lion / lamb,' and rail-jumping rhythms, majestic melodies and beyond-the-grave broadcasting of 'the rushing dark,' 'la grande' plays like an imaginary film score. it's an album about strength and confidence - about the tension between wildness and domesticity and the courage required to embark upon either path, about asserting one's will rather than submitting - and it's a significant departure from beasts' subtle meditations on frailty. one reason the sound of 'la grande' is so purposeful is that, for the first time, gibson remained in the producer's chair throughout its making, bouncing between home-recorded vocal sessions - piling as many as 15 laura gibsons on certain tracks - and proper takes at type foundry studios alongside engineer and good friend adam selzer (m ward, norfolk and western) and some great players including calexico's joey burns, members of the dodos (meric long and logan kroeber) and the decemberists (nate query, jenny conlee), clarinetist jilly coykendall, and the drumming duo rachel blumberg and matt berger (affectionately known as blumberger).