Making Something Good: “July Flame”

'July Flame'
'July Flame' by Laura Veirs

July Flame, the latest album from US singer-songwriter Laura Veirs, is appropriately titled: summery and sweet, it is as peachy as the fruit itself. Veirs can be chilly – her widely-praised 2004 record Carbon Glacier is a case in point, but so too is the glossy full band effort, Year of Meteors [2005] – so this return to Veirs’s early neo-folk sound strikes the listener immediately. The record’s producer, Tucker Martine, is the new man in Veirs’s life, and their happy co-habitation may be part of the record’s sunny disposition. Certainly, Helios is prominent throughout – one of the album’s stand-out tracks, ‘Sun is King’ states its allegiances mostly simply.

All this warmth seems to bring out the best in Veirs, though. July Flame is her seventh record, and still she languishes well beneath the radar; but here she is both accessible and consistent. There are more properly good songs on this record than on any of her previous efforts which I’ve heard; from the Fleet Foxes-ish opener ‘I Can See Your Tracks’ to what comes close to being the singalong ‘When You Give Your Heart’, a happy Veirs seems to make also for a charming one. On ‘Life Is Good Blues’, she sounds like a chipper Gillian Welch; on ‘Wide-Eyed Legless’  (“No more looking back / Faded epitaphs”) she might even make you fancy a satisfied slow-dance.

None of which is to say Veirs is any more generic than before – for starters, so many styles are covered beneath the record’s deceptively smooth surface that the listener will most enjoy a different song each time. But her lyrics, too, are as unexpected and as eviably elliptic as ever: on the instantly likeable ‘Silo Song’, she’s still singing, “Dreaming of a silver silo / Burning in the light / Venus de Milo / Soldered in the side / Thought I could her smile.” ‘Sleeper in the Valley’ – Veirs is known for revelling in the outdoors – is adapted from the poem by Dylan’s old favourite, Arthur Rimbaud. There’s an awful lot to enjoy here – and enjoy is indeed in the word. Go on, settle into an early summer.


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