Having tracked this down on the basis of the rave review in "Uncut" proved to be worthwhile indeed. It's a stark and strange album, but (in my opinion) even more beautiful and truthful for that. Visually and verbally, Veirs mixes imagery of arctic cold, dark, even death with light, grace, and life, almost unwaveringly connecting concrete experience of the here- and-now with suggestings of significance which rarely weigh heavily. (There are a few clunker lines, like "the rose is not afraid to blossom..." -- afraid? -- but they are very few, and the overall level of lyricism is so astonishingly evocative and apt that the lapses both grate and confirm the beauty of the rest.) Arrangements, instrumentation, production, and engineering are deceptively simple and gorgeous in a spare way, in which the parts all integrate into a full whole. The sound and effect of this album is unique, and it's hard to imagine it being done differently. Veirs and producer Tucker Martine have great ears. Veirs' voice is both beautiful and haunting, even strange. Obviously, I can't speak for her intentions, but as a listener I hear an occasional quavering and freedom with pitch that I suspect may grate for some but which, to me, make for a wonderful fit with the sound and sense of the words and phrases, and the instrumental context of the songs. The overall effect is transcendent; to this listener, at least, there is a feeling that you really "get it" -- that the visual images, the intellectual content, the emotional impact, and the aural experience are all fully conveyed. The results range from almost scarily wonder-full to earthy; the scale of the songs ranges from cosmic to concrete. And, finally, I've got to say that in my view at least, Veirs comes across as modest, empathetic, generous, affirming, and humane -- never preachy or self-consciously "artistic." She just gives you this stuff (at the price of the album, of course). As with all music that's good and true, this album is likely to be well-received by many for good reason, and perhaps experienced as odd and tangential by others... for good reason. I give it 5 stars on my own scale and for its quality and intentions, but that's not to say that everyone will love it.