The newest offering from beloved Portland folkie Laura Gibson is a kooky but refreshing little record. Gibson, a warbling, marble-mouthed singer, breaks with her usual style by pairing up with instrumentalist Ethan Rose on Bridge Carols, an album of seven strange and simple songs. For the most part, Gibson’s vocals are front and center here, with Rose weaving a tapestry of quiet plinks, placid drones and gentle static behind her.
As a lyricist, Gibson keeps things stark. She relies on just a few short phrases on “Knife,” a technique that, with Rose’s soundscapes surrounding her, flings the listener further into the singer’s sadness and malaise. Rose shines brightest on the last track, “Frailty,” a peculiar 53-second song that forces Gibson’s voice into a deep cave — blurring her words as if they were sung decades ago and are surfacing only now for us to hear.