Haunting Laura Veirs

Laura Veirs’ stunning new album, Warp and Weft, is full of double meanings and loaded lyrics—not to mention an enviable who’s-who in the studio (Neko Case, Jim James, k.d. lang, Karl Blau, and her husband Tucker Martine, to name a few). The album was recorded while Veirs was eight months pregnant with her second child, a fact that adds extra weight to some of its themes: gun violence, spirituality, fleeting moments. Singing about the first of these, on “America,” she twists the idea of this nation as promised land: “Every madman finds his piece in America.” The upcycled traditional “Say Darlin’ Say” recalls the industrial tones of PJ Harvey or Suzanne Vega, and it’s absolutely righteous—the new “Single Girl, Married Girl” anthem for the ’10s. The track that follows, “That Alice”—as in Coltrane—lovingly joins the deceased jazz harpist’s accomplishments to Veirs’ deep respect for her artistry and grace. (Veirs similarly lauds the “first lady of bass” in “Carol Kaye” from her album July Flame.)

Weft is the songwriter’s ninth solo release, and Veirs’ serious commitment to her craft and the women who inspire her is fully palpable on it. Some ladies might slow or suspend their songwriting to raise their children, but Veirs’ growing family appears to invigorate her—she even tours with her kids. “I’m haunted by the idea that something terrible could happen to my kids, but that fear pushes me to embrace the moment,” Veirs says in a press release. “This record is an exploration of extremes—deep, dark suffering and intense, compassionate love.”

For all its heaviness, the album’s great storytelling and musicianship, true to its name, always tacks back to the bright side (there’s origami in some copies, to boot). Veirs’ strong instincts guide these 12 songs, and she knows when to take a step back, as she does on “Sun Song,” allowing Case’s backup vocals a haunting resonance. For her part, Veirs’ clean, lilting voice never fails to convey Warp and Weft ’s overarching message: Follow your intuitions and everything’s going to be OK.

 
comments powered by Disqus