Picture Seattle and you'll be bombarded with images of plaid shirts, greasy hair and heads blown open in existential angst, which is a long way from the upbeat bittersweet alt-rock of local singer/songwriter Laura Veirs.
Following the success of 2005's mesmerizing "Year of Meteors", "Saltbreakers" is an artist at her peak. Hauntingly introspective, tender, yet gracefully playful, Veirs delights the ears as much as she pulls on the heartstrings.
Rock's laureate of the great outdoors, Laura Veirs has turned her attention on her sixth album to the watery deep - a metaphor apparently for a stormy year for her on the home front.
Whether or not "Saltbreakers" is intended to complete a trilogy initiated by "Carbon Glacier" in 2003 and 2005's "Year of Meteors", it provides a more than satisfactory sequel. The alternately grave and jaunty piano melodies here are classic Veirs, suffused with her characteristic wide-eyed poise and emotional reticence, and elaborated in chamber-pop style by her band with occasional splashes of strings and horns.
On the title track, she ventures into a rollicking, shanty-like chorus with the guys; for the rest, she remains the ambiguous nature lover, wrestling with wild thoughts in an even wilder landscape.