December 21, 2009 – Laura Veirs‘ latest release, the stripped-down July Flame, uses atmosphere and tension as the connective tissue for its songs. Veirs, who’s been setting her observations to song since 1999, says she was in a writing slump going into this record, so she challenged herself with odd tunings on her nylon-string guitar. She dug deep inside for inspiration, did away with her full band for most of the album and wrote many of these tracks in her barn in Portland, Ore.
The reviews keep coming in.Â We thought we’d round up some of the highlights:
“There was a girl, a very strange enchanted girl, who wandered very far from her punk-band past to become an acoustic singer-songwriter whose songs were suffused with the natural world.”Â [Four Stars] – Sylvie Simmons, MOJO
The Band: Laura Veirs
The Buzz: Magnificent Portland songwriter delves into the mystic, crafting spare, entrancing pop songs as informed by folk music as they are indie rock. Her upcoming July Flame takes its title from a type of peach, and its content is just as sweet and irresistible.
Key Track: â€œJuly Flame,â€ where Veirs hypnotic, mysterious voice wends its way around stiff guitar, purring an endless string of curious riddles until the whole song crests in a crescendo of swirling violins and ghostly choirs. – J. Edward Keyes, Rolling Stone.
“Part of me wants to make this a review, but I think I’ll let someone who is more skilled at it have a go. And I’ve been so excited this afternoon to preview the full album that I keep skipping back and forth from track to track which isn’t very reviewer-like. But I’ll tell you this….it’s rich with textures and sounds and finger picking and alternate tunings and strong voice.” - No Depression
The natural world is often the star of Pacific Northwest singer-songwriter (and one-time geology major) Laura Veirsâ€™ musicâ€”birds and eels and oceans and cliffs and caves and constellations tumble together in surreal lyrics that actually speak to love, loss, and lifeâ€™s mysteries if you stop to consider them. Veirsâ€™ imagery is as captivating as her husky, cloudy voice and her sophisticated arrangements, which sometimes get alt-folky with acoustic guitar, banjo, piano and violin, and other times go pop in a â€™70s Laurel Canyon kinda way while making room for jazz-tinged grooves and dabs of electronics.Â -The Philadelphia Weekly
For folk singer Laura Veirs, inspiration for her newest album came from a simple box of peaches sitting on a table at a farmersâ€™ market. The words â€œJuly Flameâ€ written on a cardboard sign caught her eye, struck a chord and inspired her to write what she believes is her strongest album yet.
â€œYouâ€™ll notice, actually, if you look at varieties of peaches and apples and fruits, that theyâ€™re really cool creative names,â€ Veirs said. She went on to write a song and album titled after those July Flame peaches.
Veirs hopes that the stripped-down, summery album that will drop Jan. 12 will bring some sunshine to the cold winter months.Â -The Pitt News
“Several songs are about trying to live in the moment and embrace life as it is now,” she says, “to treasure beauty when you encounter it because it is fleeting.
“I was exploring concepts of summer and night, love and war, and fire as both a healing and destructive force,” Veirs says. “I think we’re always struggling for things to be clear and known in our lives and relationships, but we have less control than we think.” – The Oregonian
“There’s something fascinating about Laura Veirs. As she performed on stage at Neumo’s last night, it was hard to look at anything but her.” – Seattle Weekly
â€œI kind of had a crisis of faith, to be honest,â€ she says. â€œI was writing so many songs that didnâ€™t appeal to me. It was like they were boring to me on some level.â€
When the dam finally broke, July Flame started coming in a rush.” - The Straight
Further examination of just whatâ€™s so compelling about Laura Viers doesnâ€™t yield simple answers, given there is so much songcraft going on. Veirsâ€™ voice almost always carries the heart of the melody, and the strength of itâ€™s high register personality generally dominates at the center of the song, even at its quietest.Â -Sound On Sound
Upon my first listen, Iâ€™m pretty sure I listened to the title track â€œJuly Flameâ€ about ten consecutive times, though, I tend to be a bit obsessive over songs that I enjoy.Â Itâ€™s truly a gorgeous album that Iâ€™m sure will find significant growth as 2010 grinds along.Â Â -The Yellow Stereo
We’re thrilled to have KCRW in our corner.Â They were one of the first stations to spin from July Flame, and Laura is scheduled to play the influential Morning Becomes Eclectic in February.
Recently the Santa Monica based station made a special request to include “Carol Kaye”–an homage to theÂ So. Cal session bass player legend who played on countless top 40 hits–in their Today’s Top Tune podcast:
On her new record, July Flame, singer Laura Veirs pays tribute to Carol Kaye, a bassist who was part of a practically invisible band called the Wrecking Crew that backed everyone from The Beach Boys to Glen Campbell to Ray Charles and never got the attention they deserved. Today’s Top Tune features vocals from Jim James (My Morning Jacket/Monsters of Folk) and is lovingly titled “Carol Kaye“.
Stream and download at kcrw.org
Also Download via iTunes here.
This is a homespun ad for the vinyl record (with an endorsement from Carlos, the cat):
“This is a vivid song cycle that’s part ecstasy, part sadness, and unfailingly lovely”, writes Rob Hughes.
Click to read the review and a Q&A with Laura, or better, pick up a copy of Uncut at your local finer magazine stand.
Today we feature a cross section of “I Can See Your Tracks” performances as a reminder that the clock is still ticking on the video contest.Â And of course you can enjoy the album track in a FREE two track download simply by taking a test drive through Laura’s new Raven Marching Band Shop.
Performed at an intimate rehearsal show before the Fall tour with The Decemberists.
Live audio performance on Exit 97.7, WEXT Albany, NY:
A great interview from WNRN Charlottesville, Virginia, while on tour with The Decemberists:
And finally a stripped down studio performance captured on video.
According to Andy Gill, critic for The Independent, The NME has it all wrong and Carbon Glacier aught to be on the top 10, for the decade according to this article.Â Well cheers mate, and here’s to July Flame for the aught-Tens.
Come celebrate the passing of another decade–seems like 1999 was just yesterday doesn’t it?–with the timeless old time music of Two Beers Veirs!
The tradition continues with Two Beers Veirs and full band featuring Annalisa Tornfelt, Chris Funk, Nate Query and Tucker Martine with Lewi Longmire, Colin Meloy, Darrin Craig, Maggie Lind! NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.
Widely known for being among the most critical of media outlets, Pitchfork writer Dan Weiss had some kind things to say about Laura’s title track:
“July Flame”, the title track from her upcoming album of the same name, is a certain breakthrough, and for glorious 3:45 mere singing-songwriting is everything it could be: pretty, lyrical, sculpted, not sappy or cloying.Â It’s nice to hear the word “unslakeable” spat in Veirs’ vaguely sexy purr, and while the violin-and-choir-assisted coda won’t be for everyone I know, she was right to dare it.
Just a reminder, you can download this track along withÂ “I Can See Your Tracks” for free in a single we’ve dubbed July Flame Overture.Â We simply ask you to set up a quick customer profile before delivering the goods, so we can illustrate the wonders of The Raven Marching Band Shop now equipped to deliver downloads.