The press release for Laura Gibson's new record, Empire Builder, tells a riveting tale: year ago, just as Gibson was settling into life in New York, her apartment building in the East Village blew up as a result of a gas explosion. Gibson was lucky to have come to no physical harm but she lost almost all of her belongings - we're talking musical instruments, stacks of notebooks and every word she had written in the preceding few years.

From the end of March 2015 Gibson spent several months rebuilding her life, moving between friends' couches and guest rooms and rewriting lyrics to songs she'd lost. The resulting long-player is a delicate but poised collection which, understandably, holds a lot of personal narrative at its core: if the title track doesn't distract from whatever else it is that you're doing then nothing will.

Here, Gibson tells The 405 a few more tidbits about Empire Builder and her work on it.

If I had to summarise Empire Builder in one sentence, it would be...

I'll use a lyric (from the song, 'The Last One'): "I can't tell selfishness from love anymore."

The first song I wrote for the album was...

'The Search for Dark Lake'. I had scraps of a few other songs, but that was the first that was completed.

My favourite part of the recording process was when...

I spent a week out on the Oregon Coast in Peter Broderick's studio. We built the string arrangements for 'The Cause' over the good part of a day. I had these crazy parts in my head and would sing them to Peter and he would play them back. Dave Depper came for a few days and made some of the ambient sound loops. Dave and I would run on the beach in the mornings. We'd all make breakfast together. There was so much laughter and we worked really hard.

The song that has evolved the most between its first incarnation and the finished album version is...

'Caldera'. It began as a slower song on piano. I had most of the words in place early on, but it still didn't feel like it was working. I went to record a demo with John Askew, just to get the idea down, and decided - sort of on a whim - to play it with hard strumming. We ended up building around that first demo, which is the song you hear on the record.

The track that took the longest to nail down was...

'The Cause'. Lyrically, it was a song I struggled with until the end, though I'd had the chorus and the whole melody and arrangement for a long time. I'd had the chorus in place in my head, "You belong to the cause, come on believe", but I wasn't sure what exactly "the cause" was or how it was connected to the rest of the more emotionally driven songs I was writing.

I knew the album was finished when...

I turned it in to the label.

The song I am most proud of on the record is...

The title track. In writing that song, I felt like I was able to express something I'd been trying and failing to say for some time, and couldn't have expressed in any other way. There are moments where music sneaks up on you, reveals its power. No matter how the record is received critically, I'll always have that: the feeling that the thing I was making was saving me as I was making it.

From all the tracks on the album, the one I am most excited about performing on tour is...

'Not Harmless' - it is fun because I get to play guitar riffs. I do really love playing 'Empire Builder' because it makes me feel so connected with the audience. 'Caldera' with the full band is thrilling. I've never played that song on my own. It will probably change from night to night.

The lyric I am most proud of on the record is...

The end of 'Damn Sure': "Now I'm lost in the belly of a cold museum /staring on the beaks on the bird-face men / Now you're sitting in the kitchen with someone else /stacking up peels of a clementine." They are scenes I imagine so clearly, taken from my own life.


Empire Builder is out on 1 April on City Slang. Laura Gibson plays Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in London on 26 April.