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Laura Veirs


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Indiepop, alt-country, folk

Status:

Most recent release, Case/Lang/Veirs (with Neko Case and kd lang, 2016); most recent release of solo material, Warp and Weft (2013)

See also:

Laura Veirs' site

Laura Veirs' MySpace page

Comparisons:

Hard to say. To give an idea of the range, I've seen comparisons to Liz Phair (vocally) and to the following artists: Nina Nastasia, Kate Earl, Lisa Germano, Cat Power, Jolie Holland, Neko Case. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional co-written

General comments:

Laura Veirs' albums are so evocative of character and setting that they're like little worlds. And those worlds are lovely places to spend time. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Warp and Weft is excellent — Saltbreakers and July Flame are also excellent, make sure you don't miss them. Laura Veirs really hasn't really released anything I haven't been majorly impressed by. (Tim jones-yelvington)

Comments about live performance:

This evening I was privileged to witness a very rare thing: Laura Veirs performing not only solo, but completely unplugged in as close to a house concert setting as you're going to see at this point.
     She headlined Night #2 of the "What You Got?" Festival at the Capitol Theatre in Olympia, WA. This festival is all about showcasing kid talent, with a film festival and art show and performances by all sorts of youth bands. The concerts each night are capped off with a few "pros", and tonight Rachael Sage performed right before Laura Veirs (hence my presence :).
     Laura was solo, and she had some problems with her guitar pickup so she just ended up sitting on the drum riser and inviting the audience to join her on and in front of the stage while she did her set 100% unplugged. The acoustics in the theater are amazing, so even if you weren't sitting right by her you could hear very well. It was incredible. I couldn't even begin to tell you what she played because my brain was too busy imploding...I remember a few of my favorite songs from Carbon Glacier and a bunch from her latest Saltbreakers, and she closed out with a great version of "Freight Train." (2007, meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Year of Meteors or Saltbreakers

Recordings:


The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae

Release info:

2001 (reissued in 2005 by Bella Union)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vocals, acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, banjo, Wurlitzer piano, pump organ

Guest artists:

Eyvind Kang—violin
Danny Barnes—guitar, steel guitar, banjo, sound effects
Tucker Martine—bass, drums, cymbals, shaker, loops, sound effects
Jon Hyde—pedal steel guitar
Ben Johnson—drums

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Trials and Travails... is a beautiful album, chronicling the travels of the title character. The music is alt-folk with lots of great banjo, dusky in sound, which is to say kind of melancholy, kind of dark, but somehow lighter than that implies. There are also atmospheric touches reminiscent of her later work. This is an early album, but an accomplished one. Well worth listening to for fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Troubled by the Fire

Release info:

2003—Bella Union

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vocals, guitar, banjo, bass, mbira

Guest artists:

Bill Frisell—electric guitar, National guitar
Eyvind Kang—viola, fiddle
Danny Barnes—vocals, guitars, banjo
Amy Denio—clarinet, alto saxophone
Tucker Martine—drums, percussion, sound effects
Steve Moore—piano, organ, trombone, celeste
Fred Chalenor—upright bass, electric bass

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Troubled by the Fire is lighter and folkier than Laura Veirs' later albums, but it's very nearly as good. "Cannon Fodder" is more rock and closest in sound to her later work. The other songs have their own folk-country sound and are beautiful in their own right. There are a couple of lovely instrumentals too. Images of and references to nature abound as in later work, but in subtler ways. Overall, the album is as trouble-free as a warm summer's day with a light breeze. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Carbon Glacier

Release info:

2004—Nonesuch Records—79854-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vox, guitars, banjo-uke, glockenspiel

Guest artists:

Steve Moore (The Tortured Souls)—piano, organs, vibraphonette, trombone
Karl Blau (The Tortured Souls)—bass, vox, guitar, synth, sax
Tucker Martine (The Tortured Souls)—drums, percussion, treatments
Eyvind Kang—viola
Lori Goldston—cello
Keith Lowe—upright bass (1)
Aijana, Ja'kayla, and Jamare Miller and Quiana Walker—vox (9)

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Carbon Glacier is generally considered Laura Veirs' first masterpiece and for good reason. Lyrically, the songs are as smart and literate as ever, full of natural imagery. Musically, the sound follows in the vein of her earlier, folkier work and her later more pop-influenced albums. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Year of Meteors

Release info:

2005—Nonesuch Records—7559-79893-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vocals, guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

Keith Lowe—upright bass (1, 6)
Eyvind Kang—viola (1, 5, 10)
Tucker Martine—drums, percussion, percussion programming
Steve Moore—piano, organ, keyboards
Karl Blau—electric guitar, keyboards, electric bass, background vocals

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Definitely a transition album between Carbon Glacier and Saltbreakers. You can hear the more laidback sound of the former and the more rock, more electronic sound of the latter. But absolutely an excellent album in its own right, perhaps her best. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Saltbreakers

Release info:

2007—Nonesuch Records—104316-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vocals, guitars

Guest artists:

Karl Blau (Saltbreakers)—guitars, bass, vocals, saxophone, keyboards
Tucker Martine (Saltbreakers)—drums, percussion, beats, vocals, white noises
Steve Moore (Saltbreakers)—piano, keyboards, bells, euphonium, vocals
Eyvind Kang—viola (1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 12)
Bill Frisell—electric guitar (8)
Keith Lowe—upright bass (2, 4, 8); electric bass (9)
Cedar Hill Choir (Billy Blackwood, Ericka Chambers, Todd Dixon, Laurie Adams Klein, Sarah Valley, Ashley Mofield, Michael Peasall, Sarah Peasall)—vocals (8)

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Blown away by the new Laura Veirs. Her recordings always shock me with their quality. I feel like she really stands head and shoulders above a lot of similar, guitar-based artists. Her albums are always impeccably crafted, in terms of production and pacing. She works within a style that could be really generic, unmemorable or just plain boring, but she always stands out, while maintaining remarkable grace and subtlety. And she's got a great grit in her voice that keeps her from floating away like some of her peers. This album's got a lot of songs with Northwest coast-influenced ocean imagery, and has a wicked sea monster in its lovely cover art. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

I love this album, though I'm not quite sure how to describe it. It's a little more rock, a little more electric, a little more electronic than past work. She just keeps getting better, and bolder, with every album. (JoAnn Whetsell)


July Flame

Release info:

2010—Raven Marching Band Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—guitars, banjo, piano, bass, vocals

Guest artists:

Tucker Martine—boot, drums, claps, percussion, piano, jaw harp, treatments
Jon Neufeld—archtop guitar, electric guitar
Karl Blau—bass, piano, Crumar strings, electric guitar, organ, drones, saxophone, harmonica, vocals, harmony vocals
Eyvind Kang—viola
Chris Funk—pedal steel, twelve string guitar, autoharp, mandolin
Victor Nash—vibes, trumpet
Steve Moore—pump organ, piano, Lowry organ, piano, thumb piano, Wurlitzer, bells, Casio, loops
Scott Magee—bass clarinet
Nate Query—upright bass
Jim James—vocals (1, 12), harmony vocals (3), response vocals (6)
Alberta Arts Singers (Mac Martine, Shannon Sneed, John McDonald, Sarah Dougher, Jon Neufeld, Annalisa Tornfelt, Tucker Martine)—vocals (2)
Annalisa Tornfelt—harmony vocals (13)
Leigh Mahoney (Tosca String Quartet)—violin
Tracy Seeger (Tosca String Quartet)—violin
Ames Asbell (Tosca String Quartet)—viola
Sara Nelson (Tosca String Quartet)—cello
Stephen Barber—Tosca String Quartet arrangements

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

Gorgeous. There's a lot of natural imagery in the lyrics and the music hovers among lushness, sparseness, and simplicity, with moments of each. Try "Sleeper in the Valley" or the energetic "Summer Is the Champion." (JoAnn Whetsell)

I love the title track's 'can I call you mine?' choir, the slow haunt of 'Little deschutes', a river of piano and droning guitar, whispered "I want nothing more than to float with you". 'I can see your tracks' has a western feel with snakes, smoke and a haunting cowboy howl in the background. The swaying strings and loops and hornet rain of 'Wide-eyed, legless' has me hitting repeat, repeat. 'Sun is king' has 70s harmonies, not my thing, I prefer her older American folk references, music from mountains and plains.
     Laura's lyrics are literate and evocative and full of the natural world. This album has a gnarled tree, darkened dale, honey wax, lonely cave, sea swell, hail storm and, uh, steer manure. Rimbaud's 'Sleeper in the valley' fits right in with a green hollow, singing river and blue watercress. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

I have enjoyed following Laura Veirs throughout her career, and I think her new album July Flame is just incredible. This album will serve as an excellent entryway into her work for those unfamiliar, and will impress longtime fans. I'm reminded of Aimee Mann, who has always been consistently good, but then released the stellar Smilers album last year that just blew me away. July Flame has the same impact on me. I hope ecto-folk check it out! (lasherboy@gmail.com)


Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children

Release info:

2011—Raven Marching Band Records—0751937413622

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar, whistles, Nashville strung guitar, nylon string guitar

Guest artists include:

Carl Broemel—baritone sax, pedal steel, autoharp
Rob Burger—keyboards, piano, marxophone, accordion, celeste, samples
Joe Cunningham—tenor sax
Tucker Martine—drums, percussion, wind sounds; Jump Down singer (8)
Nate Query—upright bass
Kai Welch—piano (1, 4)
Tim Young—electric guitar, slide guitar, tenor guitar
Basia Bulat—charango (2)
Jim James (My Morning Jacket)—oohs, harmony vocals (2)
Annalisa Tornfelt—fiddle (3, 11); Jump Down singer (8)
Karl Blau—harmony vocals, bass, saxophone, keyboards, banjo, b222; Jump Down singer (8)
Béla Fleck—lead banjo (5)
Alex Guy—harmony vocals (6); viola (6, 12); violin (12)
Kati Claborn, John Macdonald, Luke Ydstie—fox choir (7, 8); Jump Down singer (8)
Israel Nebeker, Adam Shearer—fox choir (7, 8)
Brian Blade—drums (8)
Bridgit Jacobsen, Johanna Kunin, Lewi Longmire—Jump Down singer (8)
Arrington deDionyso—mouth harp (11)
Colin Meloy (The Decemberists)—vocals (11)

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

This album of mostly obscure traditional songs has an old-timey feel and is pure delight for children and adults from start to finish. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Warp and Weft

Release info:

2013—Raven Marching Band Records—RMB009

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Laura Veirs—vox, nylon guitars, electric guitar, guitars, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitars, whistling

Guest artists:

Karl Blau—electric bass, baritone guitar, bass, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, mellotron, juno, keys, backing vox, vox
Carl Broemel—electric guitars, pedal steel, baritone electric guitar, lead guitar, sitar drone, tenor saxophone
Neko Case—harmony vox (1, 4, 8)
Jeremy Kittel—viola, violin, string arrangement (1, 5)
Tucker Martine—drums, percussion, sounds and treatments
Steve Nistor—drums (1); drums (left side), percussion (12)
Nate Query—acoustic bass (1); upright bass (5, 10)
Nathanial Smith—cello (1, 5, 8-11)
Bo Koster—keyboards (2, 5, 7, 10); piano (4); omnichord (6, 10)
Tim Young—additional electric guitar (2); bells, electric guitar, piano (5); electric guitar (11)
Rob Burger—accordion (3); harmonica, organs (4); slide guitar samples (7); bells (8); piano (8, 11); farfisa (8, 12); mellotron (9); pump organ (11); samples (12)
kd lang—harmony vox (3)
Jim James—vox (6, 10); keyboards (6); synthesizers (10)
Michael Finn—additional electric guitar (9)
Brian Blade—drums (11); drums (right side) (12)
Alex Guy—viola (11)
Bill Athens—upright bass (12)

Produced by:

Tucker Martine

Comments:

lovely. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

I've been loving Laura Veirs' new one too. (lasherboy@gmail.com)

Her best album to date and my favorite album of the year so far. It's excellent all the way through, with folk and rock and even jazz and blues on the last track, "White Cherry." Her ode to Alice Coltrane ("That Alice") makes me want to explore Coltrane's music. I really can't recommend this album highly enough. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Thoroughly enjoyable—intelligent, tuneful, playful. I still don't know if I'd count myself as a Veirs fan, or even how often I'd go back to this, but that's two albums in a row from her that I've had in my top of the year, so there must be something there. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Further info:

The Young Rapture Choir (a choir of students from Cognac, France) released a self-titled album of nine songs by Laura Veirs.

Compilation work includes:

  • "The Water's Gone (But Life Is Long)" with Danny Barnes on Shipwreck Day (2002)
  • a demo version of "Secret Someones" on Songs for Shelter: Seattle Musicians Helping Homeless Families (2005)
  • a live version of "Secret Someones" on In the Cards: Live At The World Café Volume 21 (2006)
  • "Mr. Mingo" on Ciao My Morning Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy (2009)
  • "Mama, You Been on My Mind" on Subterranean Home Sick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home (2010)
  • "The Ocean" on From the Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin (2010)
  • "Little Black Rock" on Science Fair (2012)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-06-23 15:29:03.
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