I'm going to come right out and admit that I'm approaching this album from a biased perspective: Female singer-songwriters make me weak at the knees. I'm reasonably sure Chan Marshall and I should grow old together (please don't tell my girlfriend), and going through puberty with Exile in Guyville in my CD player was interesting to say the least. Basically, I have a bit of a problem.
Though you might not have heard of her before last year's breakthrough Carbon Glacier, Veirs is no newcomer. Since releasing her self-titled debut in 1999, she's released four albums of weighty, introspective songs full of carefully crafted lyrics. The stripped-down, troubadour style of her earlier recordings has gradually given way to a denser, more polished sound, furthered now with the addition of her backing band, the Tortured Souls. Thankfully, the expansion of her sound doesn't come at the expense of her music's intimacy. The addition of piano and viola flourishes accentuates the spacey, dreamlike quality of her lyrics.
This last point is key. Taking nothing away from the musicianship of Veirs or the Tortured Souls, Veirs's lyrics are the album's greatest strength. Narrative and poetic, the attention to detail is readily apparent. Poignant lines leap out, grabbing you with the grace found in their simplicity. "Lake swimming/ Shucking free our deadened selves/ Like snakes and corn do" from "Lake Swimming" and "If I took you, darling/ to the caverns of my heart/ would you light the lamp, dear?" from "Spelunking" are two of the many examples of this to be found throughout Year of Meteors. Some may criticize Viers's dry delivery, but there's an inviting warmth in her understated vocals that just as many will find endearing.
Veirs hasn't given us anything strikingly original with Year Of Meteors, but there's something to be said for working within the confines of a given genre and excelling at what that entails. Music doesn't have to be flashy or groundbreaking to have merit, and thankfully we have artists such as Laura Veirs to remind us of that.
Laura Veirs Web site: http://www.lauraveirs.com/
Nonesuch Web site: http://www.nonesuch.com/
Preview Player: http://www.nonesuch.com/hi_band/yearofmeteors/
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