Laura Veirs – Warp and Weft
Laura Veirs cites feminist punk-rock, folk and pop among her formative musical inspirations – incongruent genres have helped her construct a career that is now nine albums strong. Her latest effort, Warp and Weft is perhaps her most confident and ambitious. With help from The Decemberists, Veirs’ Portland background is abandoned for a sprawling invasion of eclectic topics.
Dorothy of the Island hauntingly exposes Veirs’ preoccupation with motherhood; its lyrics are abundant with meaning, alluding in powerful voice to her having been heavily pregnant while recording the album. Her vocal range is further demonstrated on Shape Shifters, where she gently stimulates a track of poignant beauty to the backdrop of a violin and the twinkle of an acoustic guitar, Veirs’ isolated lyrics – “Winter’s on the way, think we’re gonna make it out if we stick together now” – gain tenderness. Full of calming nuance, this is the sort of song you can happily fall asleep to.
A jolt arrives halfway through the album: Say Darlin’ Say signals the advent of a significant shift of sound, becoming heavier and more experimental. Ikaria is purely instrumental and offers Veirs’ diverse backers the chance to shine. Immediately after, Sadako Folding Cranes captures Viers’ subject more successfully than ever before. The song’s protagonist, Sadako, is just “two years old”; the singer politically stirs “this is our cry, this is our prayer”, and you really believe her. Beyond the whimsical whistles and monotonous guitar strums, Veirs narrates the personal destruction caused by the Hiroshima bombing of 1945. The song’s denouement features wails from an assortment of voices, a kind of literal cry at the atrocities.
Every now and then the album loses focus and becomes a study of well-trodden guitar riffs and tiring lyrics. Efforts such as America and That Alice do little to enhance its flow and aren’t individually robust or inventive enough to compete with some of the better songs. Then again, a prolific artist like Veirs is guaranteed to blow hot and cold. Thankfully, she burns at the close – White Cherry is a real humdinger that draws together several disparate elements in unison. Though the singer’s contention “I tried not to overdo it” could have been painfully ironic, the quality of each individual component, from the bruising jazz to the shade of the Orient, makes it a fitting end to an album that is at its best when Veirs does stretch her creative and cerebral capacities.
Warp and Weft was released on 19th August 2013.
Watch the video for Sun Song here: