Laura Veirs – Saltbreakers
Given her background — she’s the daughter of a physicist/environmentalist — it makes sense that Laura Veirs writes songs loaded with outdoor imagery. But getting a handle on her music is a trickier proposition. Crisp melodies abound in her work, but against that backdrop Veirs flits between noirish acoustic folk, uptempo avant-pop, and baroque ballads that fall somewhere between.
Veirs’ third album for Nonesuch (and her sixth overall) finds her building on those strengths. Sporting an unaffected, conversational voice, she brings a spot-on warmth to arrangements that otherwise might come off as overly cool.
“Pink Light”, the opening track, sets the tone. Framed in jangly guitars, skittery percussion and a vaguely electronica vibe, the song opens with the words, “Sorry I was cruel/I was protecting myself.” Such admissions of vulnerability permeate the disc.
Other high points include “Drink Deep”, a beautiful piano ballad that channels Sinead O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”; “Wandering Kind”, a delicious slice of Bacharach-style lounge pop; and “Phantom Mountain”, a molten blast of punk-pop that sounds like Sonic Youth backing Liz Phair.
The album’s best moment is “To The Country”. Recorded at the Johnny Cash and June Carter cabin just outside Nashville, the track melds watery keyboard figures, Celtic-tinged viola, and church-choir vocals and handclaps into an otherworldly arrangement.