Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs celebrates two arrivals: album and baby
Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs has a new, well-received album, "July Flame," and is also expecting a baby this spring.
Special to The Seattle Times
Laura Veirs and The Hall of FlamesWith The Old Believers and Cataldo, 9 p.m. Saturday, Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave., Seattle; $14, 21 and over (206-789-3599 or www.tractortavern.com).
On the Internet
Hear Laura Veirs: www.lauraveirs.com.
Portland singer-songwriter Laura Veirs is heading home. Like most musicians who've endured the discomforts of a long tour — hers began in Europe nearly two months ago, and ends in Seattle this weekend — you can bet she's eager to drop her bags and sleep in her own bed.
But the happiness of homecoming is compounded by another arrival — that of her first child with longtime producer and partner Tucker Martine. Due in mid-April, Veirs spoke with me from Nashville, Tenn., about life on the road and the reception to her gorgeous new album, "July Flame."
"July Flame" is a moody masterpiece that fans of Neko Case, Yo La Tengo and Mirah will embrace as completely as fans of folk. Veirs' fingerpicking prowess and lyrical depth shine on her seventh full-length recording, named for a type of peach. It transports you directly to dreamy summer days and nights — getting "dizzy in the grass," watching firework ash fall into your lemonade.
The album explores a desire for security, and the knowledge that finding it is rare. In the title track, Veirs sings, "Will we evermore kiss on the boardwalk's fading rail? In the light of the waves and the comet's fading tail?/I don't think so."
It and many other tracks benefit from Eyvind Kang's viola and the musicianship of Karl Blau, an unsung treasure of Northwest indie-folk. The startling "I Can See Your Tracks" is made more so by the haunting moans of Jim James, who guests throughout the album. The songs should shine live with her band, the Hall of Flames.
So far, Veirs has found more fame in Europe than the U.S., but she's seen interest grow in response to "July Flame."
"It kind of feels like the best tour ever for me," she says.
Although released on her own label, Raven Marching Band, "Flame" has gotten the most mainstream support of any effort yet.
"We didn't know if it would fall on deaf ears, and it hasn't. Because I wrote it with friends, and Tucker and I made it at our house, it feels very homegrown and neighborhood-y. Then to see a wider reaction to it is a great feeling of independence."
Carla deSantis, who founded ROCKRGRL Magazine and has interviewed Veirs multiple times says, "One thing I've always loved about Laura is that she's always herself. She has never given in to any of the 'industry standard' type stuff. That self-confidence and her ability to listen to her inner voice are really compelling to those of us on the sidelines."
And her status as a working mother-to-be is compelling to everyone. Veirs notes on her tour blog about the Nashville fans who knit her a baby hat, and the Denver one who told her she was "stark raving mad" for touring while preggers.
Veirs wanted to get behind "Flame" ASAP, and she received advice from a mentor that being pregnant doesn't make one a fragile flower.
"That was a good shot in the arm," she says. "I've since found out about many women that tour and have babies. People ask me a lot of questions because you don't see heavily pregnant performers that often."
And she's looking forward to another tour — with baby and partner — within the year.
"I've been playing every night with the guitar right there resting on my belly. He or she is getting a lot of input, but it's my music," says Veirs.
"I would hope that other women who find out that I'm doing this would say, 'Oh, I can do stuff.' "
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