|Laura Veirs — Warp & Weft (2013)|
Laura Veirs — Warp & Weft
♥ The recording of 'Warp and Weft' (a weaving term) was a community effort. Produced in Portland in March 2013 by Veirs' longtime collaborator Tucker Martine, the album features Jim James, KD Lang, Neko Case, Brian Blade and members of The Decemberists and many more.
♥ Veirs sings not only of mid-winter suns, white blossoming cherry trees and melting ice, but also suicide, gun violence and war. She weaves threads of old folk songs including "Motherless Children" as well as stories of folk-art hero Howard Finster and jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. "I think of this record as a tapestry where disparate elements come together and are stronger and more lovely as a result," says Veirs.
♥ Veirs was eight months pregnant with her second child during the recording; she says her experience as a mother brought about some of the more beautiful and painful songs. "I'm haunted by the idea that something terrible could happen to my kids but that fear pushes me to embrace the moment. This record is an exploration of extremes — deep, dark suffering and intense, compassionate love."
Birth name: Laura Pauline Veirs
Born: October 24, 1973, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Location: Seattle, Washington ~ China ~ Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Album release: August 20, 2013
Record Label: Bella Union/Raven Marching Band Records
01. Sun Song (4:12)
02. America (4:13)
03. Finister Saw The Angels (3:00)
04. Dorothy Of The Island (Traditional/Laura Veirs) (5:31)
05. Shape Shifter (3:07)
06. Ghosts Of Louisville (Jim James/Tucker Martine) (0:30)
07. Say Darlin Say (Traditional) (3:48)
08. That Alice (3:27)
09. Ikaria (1:29)
10. Sadako Folding Cranes (3:54)
11. Ten Bridges (3:54)
12. White Cherry (5:30)
Album Moods: Earnest Intimate Autumnal Bittersweet Brooding Cerebral Literate Plaintive Poignant Reflective Yearning Enigmatic Innocent Joyous Playful Searching Carefree Exuberant Amiable/Good-Natured Celebratory Cheerful Fun Rousing
Themes: Awareness Comfort Empowering Everyday Life Healing/Comfort World View Yearning Zeitgeist
♥ Chloe Aftel Back Cover Photo
♥ Bill Athens Bass (Upright)
Brian Blade Drums
♥ Karl Blau Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (12 String), Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Electric), Juno, Keyboards, Mellotron, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
♥ Carl Broemel Guitar, Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Electric), Pedal Steel Guitar, Sax (Tenor)
♥ Rob Burger Accordion, Bells, Farfisa Organ, Harmonica, Mellotron, Organ, Piano, Pump Organ, Sampling
♥ Neko Case Vocal Harmony
♥ Carson Ellis Lettering
♥ Michael Finn Assistant, Guitar (Electric), Photography
♥ Alex Guy Viola
♥ Jim James Composer, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals
♥ Jeremy Kittel String Arrangements, Viola, Violin
♥ Bo Koster Keyboards, Omnichord, Piano
♥ k.d. lang Vocal Harmony
♥ Tucker Martine Composer, Drums, Engineer, Mixing, Percussion, Photography, Producer, Sounds, Treatments
♥ Grady McFerrin Artwork
♥ Steve Nistor Drums, Percussion
♥ Nate Query Bass (Acoustic), Bass (Upright)
♥ Jason Quigley Photography
♥ Roger Seibel Mastering
♥ Dale Smith Design
♥ Nathaniel Smith Cello
♥ Traditional Composer
♥ Laura Veirs Composer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Nylon String), Guitar (Rhythm), Guitars, Photography, Piano, Primary Artist, Vocals, Whistle
♥ Tim Young Bells, Guitar (Electric), Piano
Review by Thom Jurek Score: ***½
♥ After the sparse acoustic approach of 2010's July Flame and Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children in 2011, singer/songwriter Laura Veirs returns to her electric guitar on Warp & Weft and delivers a dozen new songs that wind through skillfully textured, slightly psychedelicized rock, pop, and Americana, covering everything from the fears and joys of motherhood — she had her second child in 2012 — to disillusionment to homages to heroes to gratitude and spiritual awareness. ♥ Produced by husband Tucker Martine, the pair enlist an all-star cast that includes drummer Brian Blade, My Morning Jacket, k.d. lang, Neko Case, Nate Query of the Decemberists, Jeremy Kittel, Rob Burger, and Karl Blau. "Sun Song," a shuffling country rocker, is a Veirs trademark, though its layered strings are an exotic touch amid the weave of ringing electric and nylon-string guitars. She celebrates the landscape and the emergence from a long winter with Case breezily backing her. The almost nursery rhyme-like melody of "Finster Saw the Angels" celebrates the late artist and mystic, and offers a prayer for guidance as Burger's accordion, Carl Broemel's pedal steel, and her own country picking underscore the harmony vocals with lang. The elliptical rocker, "Dorothy of the Island," borrows the chorus from the traditional "Motherless Children," but wraps it in a warm, post-psych elasticity that belies the song's lyric concerns; Case's transcendent backing vocal almost steals the show. "That Alice" is a straight-ahead rocker that celebrates the life, musical and spiritual contributions of Alice Coltrane; Case's backing vocals add a near Baroque pop quality that is blindsided by a screaming guitar solo from Broemel. "Sadako Folding Cranes," is a relatively sparse and poignant tome about Sadako Sasaki, the two-year-old who survived Hiroshima only to die a decade later of complications from leukemia. During her lifetime, she folded a thousand paper cranes in the wish that for world peace would be realized. Veirs and Jim James' harmonies meld seamlessly, creating an almost otherworldly quality. Set-closer "White Cherry" is musical acknowledgment of Coltrane's influence as it weds modal jazz — complete with a sitar, upright bass, harp samples, and two drummers -- to Veirs' own expansive sense of melody; her lyric celebrates the middle way between nature, spirit, and flesh. Warp & Weft disp-lays Veirs' sophisticated songcraft (though "America" falls short for its obviousness) is adorned by diverse textures, expert musicianship, and a generous use of space; it's almost almost perfectly balanced. — (http://www.allmusic.com/)
ANDY GILL; FRIDAY 16 AUGUST 2013 — Score: *****
Laura weaves her magic with painful and poignant tales
♥ With Warp and Weft, Laura Veirs delivers her most satisfying set of songs since Carbon Glacier, but here, the arrangements devised by Veirs and her partner/producer Tucker Martine are so much more expansive and illuminating, creating a rich tapestry of ideas and idioms.
♥ As ever, elemental matters are one of Veirs' main themes, particularly her keen apprehension of the seasons. "Sun Song" opens the album on a warm, throbbing pulse of acoustic guitar, pedal steel and viola, cut with icy shards of electric guitar, an evocative celebration of freedom from the chains of winter; and later, "Shape Shifter" contains an ambiguous regard for the onset of winter, and the fellowship required to see it through.
♥ Veirs' natural empathy for community has if anything been focused by the anxieties of parenthood: "Dorothy of the Islands" incorporates the refrain from the blues standard "Motherless Children", while one of the most moving tracks here is "Sadako Folding Cranes", a heartbreaking account of a toddler's death from atom-bomb radiation. Set to plaintive mandolin against a swirling backdrop of cymbals and keyboard textures, it's made all the more poignant by Veirs' mid-song whistling solo: so simple, so pure, so innocent, yet so powerfully emotive.
♥ In "America", she offers a more sardonic comment on the cruelty of conflict, wondering, "How can it be so cold out here in America? Everyone's packing heat here in America". As if in protest against such deadly societal tropes, she celebrates the work and dedication of outsider artists whose fascination with otherness lends strength and diversity to a community.
♥ Set to suitably simple unison guitar and vocal melody, "Finster Saw the Angels" applauds the open-spirited attitude of the Rev Howard Finster, the naive artist best known for his cover to REM's Reckoning, while "That Alice" offers a potted biography of jazz harpist Alice Coltrane, Veirs claiming, "That Alice made a palace for us".
♥ As if in confirmation, the album closes with the beautiful "White Cherry", a miasmic blend of harp, sax, piano and electric organ weightlessly borne on a Kind of Blue lilt. — (http://www.independent.co.uk/)
BY CALEB CALDWELL ON AUGUST 13, 2013 — Score: ****½
♥ Laura Veirs's ninth album, Warp & Weft, makes good on its title, a reference to the over/under thread structure of traditional loom weaving. The album combines her previous output's folk-pop touch with rootsy rock n' roll, all of it cushioned by orchestral flourishes and driven by powerful lyrics about motherhood, war, and the relationship between love and fear. Veirs, who studied geology and Mandarin in college, has long mined the strangeness of the natural world in her lyrics, combining keen observation with a fabulist sensibility. On Warp & Weft, recorded while she was pregnant with her second child, she leaves most of her usual bucolia behind to explore the beauty and menace of humanity, etching narratives about real-life figures such as jazz harpist Alice Coltrane and folk visionary Howard Finster. That most of the characters in her songs actually lived makes them no less strange or mythical to Veirs, who offers up often surreal narrative turns, like the mother in "Dorothy of the Island" who "fell into a well inside her head."
♥ Featuring guest performances by Neko Case, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, and multiple members of fellow Portland folk-rockers the Decemberists, Warp & Weft is Veirs's most expansive effort yet, with obvious musical and thematic ties to experimental Americana: "Say Darlin Say" and "That Alice" feature guitar solos that wouldn't sound amiss on a Wilco album, and Case's brassy country pipes mesh well with the homey swing of "Sun Songs." But Veirs also writes in the eclectic and complex orchestration style of artists such as Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens. Her instrumental palette, supplemented by wunderkind producer Tucker Martine's synths and sound effects, is reliably idiosyncratic, with a distinctly multicultural texture, heard in the pan-Asian percussion and bells of "Ikaria" and the microtonal choir vocals of "Ghosts of Louisville." The musical threads of Americana and Asian orchestration intertwine on the gorgeous "Sadako Folding Cranes," a ballad about Hiroshima bomb victim Sadako Sasaki that juxtaposes the banality of a waltz-time folk strum with studied discord and quietly furious lyrics: "She is blown out of the window/She is two years old/This is our cry, this is our prayer."
♥ Although occasionally bleak, the vibrant arrangements on Warp & Weft tend to bolster the modest claim expressed in "Ten Bridges" that "Tear after tear will fall from your boy/But dancing brings joy." Album closer "White Cherry," an odd, beautiful hybrid of a song, joins jazzy drums and a stuttering saxophone with a cascading harp and burbling electronic feedback; its minimalistic lyrics begin and end with the mantra, "Abundant life, that's this life." It's the perfect note on which to end the album, a resonant meditation on the tenuous joys of survival. — (http://www.slantmagazine.com/)
The Portland singer's ninth album crackles with vitality and delicate detail.
By John Chandler; Published Aug 1, 2013, 8:00am
♥ TEN YEARS AGO, the then-Seattle-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs released her third album, Troubled by the Fire. Its centerpiece, “Cannon Fodder,” is a fiercely defiant song punctuated with the lines “I will not have a child / I will be wild / And not produce meat for your slaughter / No more cannon fodder.”
♥ Fast-forward a decade to Veirs calling Portland home. Perhaps best known as a recurring guest singer on Decemberists records like The Crane Wife and The King Is Dead, as well as for her own sparkling 2011 album of children’s music, Tumble Bee, Veirs has delivered her ninth album — and her second child. Time and circumstances have honed her vision to an ideal sharpness, resulting in her finest work to date, the pensive and uplifting Warp and Weft. Now a mother herself, she’s still very troubled by the violence she sees. But Veirs, as she always has, invites us to take comfort in the resilience of nature and our own divine potential to create transcendent art.
♥ Working with producer and husband Tucker Martine (Neko Case, R.E.M., the Decemberists) and a top-notch supporting cast that includes Case, k.d. lang, My Morning Jacket singer Jim James, Karl Blau, and Decemberists bassist Nate Query, Veirs transfers her hopes, fears, and aspirations into a brilliant collage of an album that crackles with the same vitality and delicate detail as an Andrew Wyeth landscape.
♥ While alternating between poetic reveries inspired by nature (“Sun Song,” “White Cherry”) and bittersweet odes to inspirational figures like Alice Coltrane (“That Alice”) and folk artist Howard Finster (“Finster Saw the Angels”), Veirs also finds the words to vent on the state of our union in “America” (“How can it be so cold out here in America? / Everybody’s packing heat in America / Training their barrels on the city streets of America”). Rather than waste time raging, though, Veirs collects her wits and, in “Sadako Folding Cranes” — a song as exquisitely rendered as its poignant subject matter — softly reminds us of the story of Sadako Sasaki, who survived the blast of Hiroshima. “One mile from Misasa Bridge / The atom bomb explodes / She is blown out of the window / She is two years old,” sings Veirs. Sadako lived for another 10 years, and legend has it that she spent that time trying to create 1,000 origami cranes in the belief that her final wish—peace—would be granted.
♥ Despite the big names around her, Veirs remains firmly at the wheel on Warp and Weft, shaping 12 superb songs around her guitar and a riveting voice that’s capable of channeling childlike wonder — and a mother’s sadness that’s as deep as a well in a neglected garden. — (http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/)
• Laura Veirs, Raven Marching Band Records, 1999
• The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae, Raven Marching Band Records, 2001, Bella Union, 2005
• Troubled by the Fire, Bella Union, 2003
• Carbon Glacier, Bella Union (UK), February 2004, Nonesuch Records (US), August 2004
• Year of Meteors, Nonesuch Records, August 2005
• Saltbreakers, Nonesuch Records, April 2007
• July Flame, Raven Marching Band Records/Bella Union, January 2010
• Tumble Bee, November 8, 2011
• Warp and Weft, August 20, 2013
• Two Beers Veirs, Raven Marching Band Records, 2008
• Lore of Ears, Kelp Monthly, 2004
• Hello I Must Be Going from director Todd Louiso, starring Melanie Lynskey, Christopher Abbott and Blythe Danner, Raven Marching Band Records, September 2012
• "Black-Eyed Susan (demo)" on Remote Wing, Knw-Yr-Own, 2001
• "The Water's Gone (But Life Is Long)" (with Danny Barnes) on Shipwreck Day, Knw-Yr-Own, 2002
• "17" on Flotsam and Jetsam: 2005 What The Heck Fest Sampler, Kelp Monthly, 2005
• "Cast a Hook in Me" on The Sound the Hare Heard, Kill Rock Stars, 2006
• An exclusive version of "Nightingale" on Paste Magazine Sampler 39, 2007
Also featured on:
• The Young Rapture Choir, RMB, 2006
• "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)", The Decemberists's The Crane Wife, Capitol, 2006
• "Sailor System" by Your Heart Breaks, Don't Stop Believin Records, 2006
• "Dear Avery", The Decemberists's The King Is Dead, Capitol, 2011
Δ Veirs was raised in Colorado, studied geology and Mandarin Chinese at Carleton College, worked as a translator for a geological expedition in China, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Δ While growing up, she heard folk-country, classical, and pop music at home. However, she didn't "listen seriously," she says, until her 20s. At Carleton, she joined an all-girl punk band called Rair Kx!. After graduation, her taste moved to older country and folk, and during her time in China she began writing lyrics.
Δ Veirs's husband, Portland-based producer Tucker Martine, has produced her last seven albums, and plays many instruments on the records as well. Their first son, Tennessee Veirs Martine, was born in April 2010. In May 2013 they welcomed a second son, Oz Rhodes Martine.
Tucker Martine (b. 14 January 1972) is a Grammy-nominated American record producer, musician and composer, who has worked with artists such as The Decemberists, R.E.M., My Morning Jacket, Beth Orton, Neko Case, Mudhoney, Bill Frisell, Sufjan Stevens, Spoon, Camera Obscura and Laura Veirs. In 2010, Paste Magazine included Martine in their list of the 10 Best Producers of the Decade.
Δ Tucker Martine, the son of singer and songwriter Layng Martine, Jr., grew up in Nashville, Tennessee where he played in bands and tinkered with recording devices before moving to Boulder, Colorado upon graduating from high school. In Colorado, Martine was a DJ at a public radio station (KGNU). He would frequently play two or more records at once on the air. Martine also took courses at the Naropa Institute where he studied sound collage and befriended Harry Smith — the ethnomusicologist, artist and Kabbalist — who made a large impression on Martine.
|Laura Veirs — Warp & Weft (2013)|