Laura Veirs – July Flame

When Laura Veirs releases anything, it’s generally a cause for celebration. Here’s a singer/songwriter with an intensely likeable persona, gorgeous, soft vocals and a real knack for making great music. Six albums have come and gone, full of rich, modern folk with Veirs’ superb guitar work coupled with lyrics with a rare understanding of the human heart. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Laura Veirs rocks. July Flame, her 7th album is yet another winner from someone who seems incapable of putting out a bad record.

July Flame feels like a combination of the moods that have dominated her most recent records, encompassing the beautiful negativity of 2005’s Year Of Meteors and the boundless optimism of 2007’s Saltbreakers. It veers slightly away from the band instrumentation of those albums, and mostly features just Veirs’ voice and a guitar. This stripped down approach still makes for an addictive combination of immensely playful and bouncy tunes coupled with gripping, melancholic numbers. The joyful Life Is Good Blues keeps company with the haunting, piano-led Little Deschutes with each mood grabbing you exactly the way it was intended to, moving you in a completely different direction with each song. On the more upbeat numbers, Veirs seems to be having more fun than ever, if her chirpy, confident vocals are anything to go by. Then when things slow down for something more introspective, she’s still capable of grabbing you with another evocative and addictive melody. It’s all recognisably Veirs, but its altogether more focussed, more diverse and enjoyable to listen to than she’s ever been.

Perhaps the real highlight of the album is that none of the thirteen songs on offer outstay their welcome; all of them have some melody, lyric or harmony that’ll keep you coming back for repeated listens. Veirs’ previous albums may have suffered from a maximum of one or two weak links, but the quality on offer in July Flame is highly impressive and never wains.

The best compliment that can be paid to July Flame is that regardless of its early 2010 release, there’s no doubt that come the year’s close, it’ll still be on your mind when thinking of musical highlights of the last twelve months. It’s perhaps Veirs’ best work, and as such, if you’re unfamiliar this most welcoming, genuine and talented of modern singer/songwriters, there’s never been a better time to join the party.

One of 2010’s highlights, for sure.

9/10

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