By Joseph Purcell
Described by its creator as a painstaking process, Another Place to Need, the debut record from A.O. Gerber is certainly worth the wait. Gerber, cast in the role of host, welcomes the listener in to experience eight tracks and thirty-seven minutes of a spellbinding album, with both her vocal warmth and lyrically apt observations crafting an intensely personal web. Pristine arrangements interspersed by razor sharp synths and billowing horns at first it feels a lot to absorb, but as the album flows it clicks. This is the production of patience, of meticulous discipline and of a skilled artist who does not waste a single moment in the honing of her craft.
The album is an eclectic blend that transitions from the all-out raucous rip tide of opener Old Blue to the delicate slow burn euphoria of closer All I’ve Known, through a series of left turns that never feel odd. On an album of quality, centre point Full Bloom soars, Gerber’s vocal slowly intertwined with a lush piano sound, quietly dancing amid the faint notes, ‘City lights in full bloom, I’m heavy with the weight of things…..have you ever seen the way’. Subtle lyrics fall over each beat, as Gerber recalls Cat Power in her delivery.
Singles – In the Morning and Tell Me – bookend Full Bloom, continuing the trend of bare transparency that casts Gerber as such an absorbingly vulnerable songwriter. The former, inspired by a long drive up the Oregon coast, certainly encapsulates the beauty of its stimulus. Composed against the backdrop of the crushing pain of a relationship break up, it floats along a bittersweet cascade, reflecting the intense emotions of sadness before lurching into the moment of reawakening – ‘everything takes time, that’s what they say darling …but I don’t have patience for the pain of it anymore’. Tell Me is a more singular affair, citing the balance between self-pleasure and self-loathing – ‘If I don’t leave will you judge me….I’ve never known how to take care of myself in the morning when the fences are high and I’m feeling ashamed’. Gerber wrestles with the responsibility of writing a song about female masturbation that isn’t self-accepting or humourous in tone. The battle she pitches is that pleasure can be just as much about loneliness and escapism as it is about sexual empowerment. Delicately and successfully, Gerber manages to craft her message into an unrelenting honesty.
Another Place to Need is the result of a journey for its creator. Now formed and cast out into the world for all to listen to, it is a stunning collection of thought-provoking nuggets, brought together by a deeply-talented artist. Throughout, A.O Gerber does not shy away or flinch from the crushing doubts and emotional concerns, instead she forges ahead. Her discipline and commitment may have well felt painstaking to its creator, but result is anything but to those lucky enough to listen.
Secret Meeting score: 86
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