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Laura Veirs
July Flame Julian Marszalek , January 25th, 2010 07:14

That change is inevitable is a given; it's how one deals with it that's open ended. But change has been a constant factor in the musical development of Laura Veirs. Her metamorphosis from fronting a punk band to becoming a singer-songwriter in the alterno-folk idiom has been delightfully smooth and convincing to the degree that she occupies an idiosyncratic corner of the musical world that she can call her own. Her past as a geology graduate informed her last album, the achingly beautiful Saltbreakers, as she looked to the natural world of the sea, mountains and wildlife for inspiration and direction.

But with that album under her belt, Veirs has uprooted herself from Seattle to Portland and, due to geographical necessity, split with her previous band. The resulting album signals a perceptible shift in direction. Her concerns remain firmly in place and once again her work is populated with life, beauty and a world that struggles to remain untarnished in the face of overwhelming odds, but this time the music has moved away from the syncopated rhythms and alt-folk that characterised her previous work into an ethereal variant of Americana.

It's difficult to shake the feeling that had Veirs been born a man, suffered a traumatic break-up and subsequently lived in a cave in the woods surviving only a diet of fresh meat killed by her own hands then she'd be receiving the attention she deserves. Yet be that as it may, at the heart of Veirs' music lies a ray of optimism that acts as a much-needed tonic to macho introspective navel-gazing and self-pity. 'Make Something Good', the album's closer, is an affirmative declaration and once makes the perfect sense given all that's preceded it.

Drenched in the warmth of the summer, the sun is a constant presence throughout. The wonderful 'Sun Is King', a languid strum accompanied by lap steel guitar and My Morning Jacket's Jim James, is a particularly evocative highlight while the title track is a sweet as the fruit that inspired it.

Veirs remains an anomaly, albeit one that favours the half-full glass approach. Devoid of cynicism, solipsism and chest-beating, her approach is one that banishes, if only fleetingly, the murk and gloom of an outside world and replaces it with warmth and a rare and refreshing sense of joy.