Interview: Laura Veirs
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Having suffered from writer's block, penning the song 'July Flame' last summer served as impetus for a creative revival: "For a while I felt like I was spinning my wheels…wondering where my inspiration was. It almost feels like a blessing when a full song, like 'July Flame', just falls out the sky. I feel like that song did some new things for me, rhythmically it's more unusual [so] I could still surprise myself."
With that momentum, she crafted a full album that wistfully relates fleeting moments during dog days. As usual, naturalistic traces- a signature of Veirs' style- are prominent, which she suggests are a continuing part of her appeal: "So much of what I deal with is elemental which is why people can relate to it: they've [all] seen the rain fall, or a spider climb, or a fly trying to get out the window or some mundane thing."
But conceptually grounding the album in midsummer wasn't a design: "I didn't go in with an intentional theme. My first album- The Triumphs & Travails Of Orphan Mae- is a concept album that was fun to structure from the start. Songs about a girl going round the old West. But this time I wanted to wait and watch things emerge."
In fact, Veirs resists the notion that July Flame should be perceived as a summer record. "I feel that the stereotype of a summer album is real poppy and breezy and free and there are elements of that, but people can be morose and melancholic. It has undertones of melancholy but there's a lot of interplay between major and minor [keys] throughout the whole album."
Nonetheless, with Veirs and long-time producer/new romantic partner Tucker Martine recently settling together in Portland, her work inevitably reflects their blossoming relationship. Clearly ground rules were required for keeping things professional: "This was the first we made at our own house. When we went into this I said let's make a pact that we'd be nice and professional. And we were. And I think that's largely because we made the pact and if someone started to slide the other one would call them on it. And it's almost a treat for us to be able to make a record together because we're so busy on other things, like touring and his production commitments."
Veirs chose to downscale from a full band sound for the writing of July Flame. Despite this, encased in Thekla's hull, she's supported by The Hall of Flames, a serene cast of three whom Veirs introduces individually with their star signs, then quipping that the fifth member onstage will be born an Aries, who are renowned for impeccable behaviour and a complete aversion to pooping. With commanding repose, Veirs has a soft, winsome stage presence, enhanced by her willingness to connect with the audience. She takes time in between soft balladry to invite questions, which unsurprisingly focus on her pregnancy ("no, the baby doesn't kick during shows; it saves the karate chopping for night-time").
Touring whilst expecting is bold, and Veirs' desire to capitalise on the great reception July Flame is garnering means the future party will be one larger. "I'll probably bring the baby out with me on tour, I mean, they are pretty portable. Plus my parents have offered to help out, looking after the baby on tour. We'll be like a gypsy travelling band."
So when the sweetly wry folk singer next passes through town, with familial entourage in tow, try to attend. As Laura says, they'll be hard to miss.
First published in Epigram - epigrammusic.blogspot.com/