Album Review: July Flame / Laura Veirs

Laura Veris’ latest album, “July Flame”, was released in January. I’d been meaning to check if she’d released a new album because I figured she was about due (in more ways than one, actually, she’s expecting her first child soon) but kept forgetting till a couple of weeks ago.

I figured I’d listen to it for a while before reviewing it, which I have now done.

And then realised that I actually haven’t got the faintest idea how to write an album review.

Most reviews I’ve read go into great detail comparing each track to every other piece of music ever written, speculating about influences, and labelling the hell out of everything (“This track is rockabilly with some ska influences and a slight degree of Cambodian Folk Music influence coupled with funkadelic chocolate frosting and a parrot.”)

I don’t have the ‘expertise’ to do that, and frankly I’m happy about that. So lets start over.

I discovered Laura Veirs back when I used to troll around music stores and get interesting looking CDs. I bought “Year of Meteros” because of the photo of her on the cover – she looks like a total nerd, and I loved it.

Laura Veirs’ music has been described as “folk rock”, “acoustic rock”, and the ubiquitous “indie” made even worse by adding a “pop” suffix. I don’t know why people are trying so hard. It’s rock, plain and simple, R-O-C-K rock. Sometimes it’s just a girl singing with an acoustic guitar, sometimes it’s electric guitars that can even get loudish, and drums, and everything else that, you know, what rock music is.

Most of the new album is pretty quiet. Not “acoustic” – there are clearly electric guitars and effects – just quiet, in a laid back, relaxed kind of way. This is really what Laura Veirs does best. Her voice lends itself to “relaxed”.

Speaking of her voice, it does seem occasionally more processed on this album. Not “auto-tune” processed – it’s still very much her voice. Just that vocal effects like compression and reverb and that thing where it almost sounds like you’re talking on a phone are more prominent on some tracks. There are also a lot more harmonies with the rest of the band, rather than just Laura Veirs singing on her own.

It doesn’t have any tracks that’ll take the place of my favourite Laura Veirs song, which is “Cast A Hook In Me”, from her previous album, Saltbreaker. That’s hardly a fair contest, though, since that’s just an excellent song and is one of my overall favourite tracks by anyone.

It does have some really good tracks, and is a very solid rock album, which is rare to see nowadays. No BS, no gimmicks, no shock-for-sock-value, no selling out (I’m looking at you, Liz Phair). Well worth the wait, and I hope that Laura Veirs doesn’t take too long to record a new album, new baby notwithstanding.

Oh, when I bought her album off her website, it arrived with a hand-written Thank You note. Take that, major labels!


Some links:
Laura Veirs Official Website, where you can buy her albums and get free tracks from July Flame.
“Cast A Hook In Me” video on YouTube.
Interview with Laura Veirs (and her band) talking about the new album. Amongst other things.

4 comments to Album Review: July Flame / Laura Veirs

  • Karny

    OK, So the thing with Indie that it’s only supposed to mean “independent” it doesn’t suppose to refer to any musical genre – have I written this before? well it always bugs me that people label something as indie as if it describes the music itself. Anyhow, I only listened to her album like once or twice. She mostly reminded me of Susanne Vega. I should listen to her again….

  • Karny

    See, I know what they mean by it, but I’m still annoyed when they say it…

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