Nerdy but nice, the music of the bookish Laura Veirs is the kind you might discover on the soundtrack of a romantic comedy/drama without it distracting too much from the action.
The steadfast avoidance of confessional elements in her lyrics give her story songs a universal appeal but the absence of specifics can also feel anonymous and detached. She often sounds as if she is happily lost in the convoluted narrative of a great American novel.
These titles are reissues on Laura Veirs' own label of three former Nonesuch albums. They have been out of print for over a decade and Portland-based songwriter says “It’s awesome to finally own the masters for my whole catalogue and to have them available for my fans again”.
Looking back on the moods the albums reflect, she says: “Carbon Glacier (2004) is my wintry/ice album, Year of Meteors (2005) is my sky/outer space album, and Saltbreakers (2007) is my salt/sea album. They all still hold up for me in their own ways”. All three albums, each containing 13 tracks, were produced by Tucker Martine of The Decembrists.
The tracks on 'Carbon Glacier' have what critic Sylvie Simmons called a "skewed spookiness". The songs, written alone one dark Seattle winter are stark although tasteful string arrangements soften the rawer edges. Titles like Icebound Stream and Blackened Anchor (an instrumental) convey something of the mood. The glimmering beauty of Rapture is a standout track in which she wonders out loud if a "love of colour, sound or words" is a blessing or a curse.
'Year Of Meteors' is more expansive and electric, typified in the upbeat Galaxies and the skipping joyfulness of Lake Swimming. Eylind Kang plays viola on three tracks including the scene setting opening song Fire Snakes. The eccentrically titled Spelunking exemplifies how Veirs' words cleverly acknowledge yet disguise any emotional vulnerabilities she might be feeling. In this song she is curious as to whether a.n.other might be willing to "light the lamp to the caverns of my heart".
'Saltbreakers' , which is also the name of her live backing band, is spikier and contains more conventional indie pop tunes. You are invited to sample a handful of dream dust on Ocean Night Song and the closing track Bright Glittering Gifts almost convinces you that it might be fun to be lost in the ocean waves.
The subtlety and individuality of Laura Veils writing marks her as a woman who doesn't give up her gold casually. Her songs demand attention but the underlying lightness and optimism reward those prepared to go with the flow of her slipstream.
Laura Veirs' website