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Released hot on the heels of her acclaimed first album, 'Troubled By The Fire' (2003), 'Carbon Glacier' is an astonishing follow-up that will ensure her place as one of the world's classic songwriters. 13 tracks. Uncut - Album of the Month. Bella Union. 2004.
Top Customer Reviews
Damn, where have I heard that voice before? Kate Rusby? ISB's Licorice? Kim Carnes, of 'Bette Davis eyes' fame? Iris DeMent? Nope - I've gone thru my entire collection, played her down the phone to pals, researched Amazon for any memory jogger, and zilch. I can only conclude that the divine Vox Veirs-ienne has been echoing siren-like inside me down the years, and is finally now made flesh.
Yukk, what a cheesy remark. Exactly the sort of soppy reviewer rubbish that causes me to instantly click on and never go near the artiste in question again.
Ignore my over-purpled prose and just lend this amazing talent an ear - you'll be chuffed you did. Try "Troubled by Fire", track 7, "Tiger Tattoos". Swoon to that quavery voice; listen stunned to the wondrous Bill Frisell's accompaniment (he works more miracles on tracks 9 and 11.)
But don't fall for listening to #2 on the same album - "Bedroom Eyes". You'll play it again, and again, and then the whole album several times, and then you'll roam the streets for any store clued-up enough to stock the equally excellent single, "Cloud Room."
A major talent whose future direction we can't even guess at save to say that it's going to be rewarding to watch her grow. And we caught her in the early days!
There's something comforting about surveying such sights with just a solitary voice reverberating through your headphones, siphoning out the sounds of a thousand strangers' voices and focusing upon one woman's restless muse. It's like hearing a voice that's been lost in the crowd, taken and amplified to drown out all that lies in its periphery until on its own, it sounds lonely, strange and fearlessly beautiful.
Laura Veirs' first album, Troubled by the Fire, was a beguiling infant of a record; a slow hug of furnace-warmth and lilting grace that reveled in romance and lovestruck simplicity, striding down a similar, country-flecked path to songwriters such as Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams. However, on this follow-up, Veirs treads a vastly different path, producing an album of opaque, wintered laments that evoke the cold, jagged landscape of the Colorado Rockies that formed this Seattle-based songwriter's childhood.
The mood is evoked with arresting results.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although I'm admittedly indifferent to most lyrics, unless they are flat-out brilliant or just plain embarrassing, Veirs' render me spellbound, conjuring tangible, poetic images that convey the intimacy of shared, deeply personal thoughts, but somehow manage to avoid being even remotely confessional or self-referential. Her unusual vocal phrasing makes her gently gothic Americana-tinged narratives all the more engaging.
With complex, surprising and fresh arrangements and intelligent instrumentation provided by a group of top-notch collaborators, Veirs easily transcends the trappings of the usually ho-hum "singer-songwriter" genre and emerges as an important and distinctive voice in an ever-swelling sea of musical mediocrity.
It's not every day you discover music that defies easy comparison. Thank god for artists like Laura Veirs who make us hear the world differently.
1. Ether sings. Square, steady rhythm, up-and-down, sing-song, clear-voiced, earnest voice seems to speak of a mystical world in flat, frank, straight-forward, clear terms. The contrast of many seemingly disjoint elements draws my attention--why do they work together? She is a clear-eyed girl next door with firm Rs.
2. Ice bound stream. More of the same in more extreme form. Vaguely Asian timbres; hard, simple pulse; sing-song line. Frank, direct, crisp vocal delivery. I keep thinking of unicorns and fairies--why?
3. Rapture. A quieter, slower, calmer, less disjoint, disorienting world brings to mind Stephin Merritt. Voice is at once fragile and sure of itself--just right. Interesting tension. Still a bit of New Age in sparkling arpeggios, but never simple enough to fade from attention/interest.
4. Lonely angel dust. Simple, clear tune, words, wordplay. Childlike in the transparency of all, but never simplistic. That said, what do these words really mean?
5. Cloud room. Booming rhythm, firmer rock bottom than above. But words and tune are still drifty, floating much like those above. Many layers of different tones coexist--boom-beat, zoned electronics, sound effects, disembodied back-up voices--with a simple, clear, direct voice in the middle of it all.
6. Wind is blowing stars. Simple voice and simple guitar; the voice twists tones toward being out of tune, but never seems out of control. A similarly whiney solo violin voice enters briefly. Obscure words again, but she pours them out steadily with conviction.
7. Shadow blues. A male voice shadows hers, together with two simple guitar lines. The song is slow, quiet, drifting, but engaging. She seems to sing in an empty space, perhaps only to herself. Slowly rolling. Quiet, gray, resigned feel of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly spaghetti Western music.
8. Anne Bonny rag. Instrumental. Beautiful, simple Hot Tuna-style finger-picked guitar style, joined by comparable toy piano. Lightly rippling, light-hearted blues that a young Taj Mahal might have favored. Then murky New Orleans-style brass.
9. Snow camping. Slow, quiet, confident. Is this the most conventional pop song yet, or am I just growing familiar? The innocence and earnestness of her voice contrasts with a resigned grayness and implied menance of Twin Peaks atmosphere. Scary, as though she is in danger and not aware of it.
10. Chimney sweeping man. Elegant finger picking à la Claudia Schmidt. The song glides quietly in a gauzy atmosphere. She sings firmly and clearly--but what do the words mean?!--in a way that she will be heard through this hazy setting. Strong hints of Kate Bush.
11. Salvage a smile. Harsher than anything yet, with electric guitars, some quietly screeching. This presses forward relentlessly, with her firm commitment right in the middle of it.
12. Blackened amber. Instrumental. A long, slow, grimy, noisy build-up of gritty gauze, then quiet.
13. Riptide. Firm, steady, quietly driving forward with a transparent texture and her voice dominant in it. Confident delivery of words that mean ... what? The setting is a steadily pulsed, finger-picked guitar with a dreamy schmear of quietly whiney textures.