Laura Veirs pulls out all the stops on the enchanting July Flame

The name Laura Veirs conjures up unrivaled, winsome imagery and an inexpressible feeling of being under an entrancing spell. Yes, it’s abstract; but suitable to the music she makes. Wistful, longing searches through waves of hope and desire, attempts to create lasting relationships, all in the setting of the different worlds Veirs manages to portray in her albums. Seeing her songs, I imagine rays of light seeping through the tiniest of pores in a foggy haze, as almost eerily calming landscapes dominate the background. She is one with nature, and we can hear as much through the sound as through the lyrics themselves. On July Flame, Veirs puts all of these aforementioned images and emotions together for her most consistently affecting album.

The album starts off in an unassuming manner, with Veirs warm voice and simple acoustic guitar on “I Can See Your Tracks”. It’s definitely a mood-setter; it prepares us for the upcoming tracks. By the end of the song, we’re mellow, we’re mushy, and we’re ready to be swept off our feet. The album then seamlessly moves into “July Flame”, one of its strongest tracks, and one of her strongest songs ever. Overlapping guitar and synth match up with the airy vocals, and the percussion is steady and determined. About two-thirds in we get the expected crescendo with high keys, but what’s not expected is the choir-like harmony in the background that comes in with strings and wooden instruments, creating a complex sequence of Veirs singing over herself, the choir, and the sporadic clapping. The song somehow becomes an orchestral composition after starting from the most humble of beginnings.

Humility defines the album really. Veirs continues with her deft songwriting, but while we may have been used to immediately captivating songs on previous albums, she’s slightly subdued on July Flame. That’s not to say, though, that the album doesn’t have its fair share of Veirs moments. Midway through the lovely (NOT too cutesy) titled “Life Is Good Blues”, “bop bop” vocals join in with the guitar and Veirs sings quickly over them. On “Little Deschutes”, classical piano takes the reigns, and the vocal structure is entirely unexpected. After listening to the album, I don’t know, 50+ times, I continue to notice new intricacies, and sometimes it feels like the addition of new instruments never ends (seriously, instrumentally, July Flame pulls out all the stops), yet it all fits.

Our patience on July Flame is a virtue – without it, we’re unable to fully immerse ourselves in the beauty. This might be off-putting to some, as it takes a bit longer to feel the euphoria and progression. Just when we think Veirs is heading toward a fast-paced, glitchy tune, she cuts it short and leads into the next song, which typically begins with just her voice and guitar. But this all comes in an effort to fully ground us in the majestic universe she has created within July Flame.

Laura Veirs – “July Flame” [MP3]

Laura Veirs – “Sleeper In The Valley” [MP3]

Laura Veirs – “Life Is Good Blues” [MP3]

Purchase July Flame from Veirs’ own record label, Raven Marching Band

2 comments to Laura Veirs pulls out all the stops on the enchanting July Flame

  • Great review aand great writing. Absolutely the album is magical, and “at one with nature,” as you say. I know it’s only January 12 but I hearby nominate it for album of the year 2010!

    (Until Broken Bells/Radiohead/Fleet Foxes/Spoon get released. Then we’ll see :-)

  • David Micley

    The review for July Flame brought the song to a completely new level for me. It allowed me to focus on all the details and idiosyncracies of the song, that I would have other wise not noticed. There are so many layers and levels to July Flame, which the review helped reveal to me. I feel as if the review and the song joined together in a harmonious partnership, to instill in me a feeling of nostalgia for my July Flame. Especially in these cold days of winter, it was heartwarming to long for those romantic summer evenings, lost in the past, but burried deep in the most treasured parts of my memory. Butterflies flapped in my stomach, as the choir’s voice lifted me up with a sense of hope and optimism for the July Flame to come…