From one of the country’s most inimitable songwriters – Portland, Oregon’s Laura Veirs – comes her ninth full-length album. Beautiful, lush and at times deeply dark, “Warp and Weft” captures the intensity of motherhood, love and violence. Primarily electric-guitar driven, it is a fever dream of an album and could well be Veirs’ best work to date. It builds on the uniform praise and commercial success of 2010’s “July Flame,” which Utne Reader dubbed “idiosyncratic and captivating” and received glowing reviews from The New York Times, Pitchfork, NPR and others.
The recording of “Warp and Weft” (a weaving term) was a community effort. Produced in Portland in March 2013 by Veirs’ longtime collaborator Tucker Martine, the album features Jim James, kd lang, Neko Case, Brian Blade and members of The Decemberists and many more.
Veirs sings not only of mid-winter suns, white blossoming cherry trees and melting ice, but also suicide, gun violence and war. She weaves threads of old folk songs including “Motherless Children” as well as stories of folk-art hero Howard Finster and jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. “I think of this record as a tapestry where disparate elements come together and are stronger and more lovely as a result,” says Veirs.
Veirs was eight months pregnant with her second child during the recording; she says her experience as a mother brought about some of the more beautiful and painful songs. “I’m haunted by the idea that something terrible could happen to my kids but that fear pushes me to embrace the moment. This record is an exploration of extremes – deep, dark suffering and intense, compassionate love.”
“Laura makes such complicated melodies sound easy,” says Neko Case. “The first listen is so comforting and warm, then after two or three listens, the time when you wanna start singing along, you are struck by the thoughtful work that went into making the sounds; the twists and turns she makes like a light gazelle. It’s masterful; as a listener, it makes me feel loved. As a musician it makes me feel challenged and engaged. It’s a complete protein!”
“Warp and Weft” will be released on Veirs’ own Raven Marching Band Records (North America) and Bella Union (rest of the world) on August 20, 2013. Veirs will tour with a full band in the fall in the US and Europe.
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Laura Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she often spent summers camping with her family, which gave her much of her songwriting inspiration. Veirs has said that she didn’t seriously listen to music until she was in her 20s; instead, she just heard what was in her environment. She listened to folk, country, classical and pop music around the house and on the radio during her youth.
Attending Carleton College in rural Minnesota, Veirs latched onto feminist punk rock from the Pacific Northwest. Laura studied geology and Mandarin Chinese. After college, she embraced older country and folk music. Her first foray into songwriting started with a geological expedition in China, where she served as translator. She was miserable and immersed herself into writing lyrics as a way of coping.
She put out her own self-titled album Laura Veirs, recorded live and featuring just her and guitar, in 1999. She has since made seven highly acclaimed records with producer/husband Tucker Martine. Veirs’ seventh album, July Flame, was released in January 2010 on her own record label, Raven Marching Band Records, followed by “Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children,” in November 2011. Her latest release on August 20th, 2013 is “Warp and Weft”.
Veirs tours frequently in Europe and North America. She lives in Portland, Oregon with Martine and their young sons Tennessee and Oz.