Laura Veirs seventh album July Flame, which Colin Meloy of The Decemberists calls ''the best album of 2010,'' explores the emotion of mid-summer. Drenched in wood smoke, sunlight, pollinators, pastoral dales, fireworks and warm nights, her lyrics explore the
dichotomy between one s desire for permanence and security and the realization that such things rarely exist. Nowhere on the album is this inherent tension more crystallized than on the title track. Composed mostly in the barn behind her house in Portland, OR, July Flame is a relatively stripped-down folk record highlighting
Veirs masterful finger picking guitar and confident vocals. ''Laura s like the queen bee and my ear is her hive; she nests and makes honey in the hairs of my cochlea,'' says Jim James of My Morning Jacket (who sings on several tracks). The album breaks from Veirs previous full-band efforts, although
many of the same players make appearances on the album, including longtime collaborators Karl Blau and Steve Moore. String arrangements are featured more on this album than on
others; the brilliant improviser Eyvind Kang plays viola on many songs, and legendary arranger Stephen Barber composed hauntingly beautiful string quartet arrangements for three songs.
July Flame is the sixth album (and third released on her own label Raven Marching Band) that Laura and producer Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Laura Gibson) have made together. Recorded and mixed at their home, the songwriting, arrangements, production and performances create a fully realized piece of art that inspires reflection and calm in a world that spins
''The magnificent Portland songwriter delves into the mystic, crafting spare, entrancing pop songs as informed by folk music as they are indie rock. July Flame takes its title from a type of peach, and its content is just as sweet and irresistible.'' --Rolling Stone
''It s full of texture... You almost want to run your hands across it and feel the nicks in the wood grain, or order it off the appetizer menu in your town s new warehouse-district restaurant run by a ruddy-faced genius with a beard. It s full of layered folk and indie-rock bucolia and plain-spoken but stretchy-thinking language, wherein everyday energies or objects transubstantiate into other, metaphorically richer ones. There are some great, seemingly unforced, séancelike moments here... (Veirs) still makes cagey, careful music, but it s easing up, getting warmer.'' --The New York Times