Laura Veirs – Warp & Weft

Deliberately slow paced, to its detriment.

Despite the best sources claiming she hails from Portland, Oregon, from the sound of ‘Warp & Weft’ Laura Veirs could just have easily suffered through the totally-not-climate-change-related tropical summer the British isles have just sweated their way through. Her ninth LP is in no hurry, and the gentle alt-folk arrangements have a sunstroke fragility to them. It’s a pretty good time to be in the folk game, what with all these blokes in tweed farting around with their banjos and stuff. Veirs’ music isn’t quite the propulsive festival sing-a-long type, though. ‘Warp & Weft’ is deliberately slow paced, to its detriment.

The songs rely more on texture, lots of finger picking, and some cute lines (especially “How can it be so cold out here in America? / Everybody’s packing heat out here in America” from, erm, ‘America’. The chorus is also, simply ‘America’. You could make a good drinking game out of it) than immediacy and catchy tunes. Which makes it all a bit bloodless, save for the time the rest of the band turn up with a rhythm transfusion for the more upbeat ‘That Alice’ and a short diversion into rockabilly on ‘Say Darlin Say’ which brings a little colour to the pallid cheeks.

Veirs’ vocal style is comparable to that of namesake Marling, but her music – on this record at least – isn’t quite as successful at conjuring up an ethereal, rustic feel. It feels more distant and disconnected. Plus it’s pretty disappointing that ‘Sadako Folding Cranes’ doesn’t detail the origami skills of the ghost girl from The Ring (although the sleigh bells in the song are pretty creepy).

A lot of the time ‘Warp & Weft’ is just very slow, and whilst there are a couple of earworms to be turned up here and there (including opening number ‘Sun Song’, with some lap steel guitar coming through on the horizon and a nice little chorus harmony, provided by Neko Case), it’s mostly pretty stodgy. Veirs has said that the record is partially inspired by her growing family – she just gave birth to a second child – and the fear of something bad happening to them. Which is the sort of strong emotion that seems to be lacking in this wafer-light record.

Tags: Laura Veirs, Reviews, Album Reviews

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