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Thursday, September 15, 2005

laura veirs_meteors cover pic

Unveering Excellence

~ Laura Veirs: Year of Meteors ~

And the first shall be last ...

Way back when I was debating over contacting Nonesuch records to see if they were sending me Bill Frisell's East/West, or should I pay with coin of the realm, my eye fell on the New York Times' review by Kelefa Sanneh of none other than the wondrous laura veirs from Seattle Weekly reviewLaura Veirs' new album, Year of Meteors.

KS had given it pride of place in his Playlist review column and  waxed lyrical in tribute:

"Melodies mellow and buoyant enough to make her words float and sometimes fly ... full of vivid phrases ... lovely and mysterious songs ... spiky with guitar noise ..."

Naturally, any review showing such finely honed taste was worth reading in full, and damn me if the silken-pen'd Mr Sanneh didn't single out *two* more albums that caught my fancy:

  • Sally Seltmann's "Last Beautiful Day" under the daft recording name of New Buffalo
  • And the untypable Brendon Ånderegg and Koën Høltkamp's Mountains on the equally suspect-looking Apeståartje label.
    • Apparently, this "mesmerizing" and "diffident-but-never-bland" disc can accompany "the densest book, the thorniest task, the hardest night, the gentlest morning."

    I don't know if Kelefa Sanneh just likes to make his readers work hard, but I found both albums almost untraceable, which is why I'm sharing my detective work here.

    A sample of the intoxicating Ms Seltmann can be sampled on two mp3s:

  • Recovery
  • I've Got You.

    As for 'Mountains', forget it - I ordered it and it is THE blandest most boring pretentious example of plinking preciousness since Kings of Convenience conned their way into our clubs and consciousness.

    Now, whereas I'm prepared to wait for a freebie of the great Frisell, I can NOT sit easy 'til while there's a new Veirs out there.

    No sooner had I scooted down to The Glass Onion to snatch up this latest masterpiece than I spot Neal Schindler's discerning 'Talk Talk' piece in our very own Seattle Weekly. Indeed, I cribbed that photo of Ms Laura from the Schindler article rather than use the weirdo shot from the Nonesuch page, even if it *does* sort of look like her and is probably her pride and joy among cool snaps.

    Ms Veirs is no beauty but her music is heavenly.

    In fact, I must have gazed on Ms Veirs for 6 months before actually listening to snippets on Amazon's page: a work mate had a postcard of her pinned to his cubicle - in fact, I think he even said that he'd *taken* the snap in question.

    Being the looksist I am, I of course ignored the possibility that she might actually be any good. But the moment I heard her siren tones, I bought everything in one go and have not been disappointed.

    In conversation with the camera man, I sang her praises and he asked me if I thought she'd actually make it, because Laura herself was going thru a gloomy stage. I told him that without any doubt, she would indeed "make it".

    If someone like Veirs is ever likely to achieve anything so vulgar as "popularity", this girl is going to be HUGE.

    In case she hasn't seen it, the UK Daily Telegraph's Arts page Music reviews section recently chose Year of Meteors as its CD of the Week - whacking great pic with a double 6" double column review hogging the page. No one else gets a look in. Ms Veirs, you've arrived.

    Before launching into my rave, I have to caution that many of my pals find her an acquired voice - why, I don't know. I tried to look up my earlier blog reviews but all I got was everyone else's write-ups, so let me share my Amazon.com comments.

    Meteors is her most accomplished to date - hardly surprising for one who improves with each one - and her Tortured Souls band packs a real punch that drummer and producer Tucker Martine does full justice to.

    To listen to Veirs, you sort of think she's just ever-so slightly out of tune but she ain't and her harmonizing with herself is gorgeous.

    Check out Magnetized (that I keep calling 'Tattoo') for how perfectly her quiet voice rises thru the keys:

    "Burn, brand a memory black, a tattoo of you; wash me with your mouth"

    and the perfect synth backing.

    She knows what instruments go well: Eyvind Kang on viola on Parisian Dream adds the perfect touch.

    "This Chinese junk we're on, with strapping strong, you cast free the lines, let's float here"

    Galaxies: lovely scorching guitars and her crystal clear diction coming thru: "When we kiss, when we kiss, bears and boulders vibrate thur the air."

    Spelunking: If you need persuading, listen to track 9. The easy beat she takes it at, the perfect chords, the way the backing guitar comes in. Ah me - I'm lost ...

    "The tiny midnight caravan made its way across the black hills, as I watched from a distance, the slow-going glow."

    I'm incapable of writing the sort of notice that'll send you out to check this lady out, but clever clever Nonesuch for spotting her.

    Next time, I'll ask for an early copy of Laura and leave Bill Frisell to compete with when budget allows.

    Wonderful, wonderful Laura Veirs. I want her to be a huge success so she'll go on making records and I can go on feeling the neck hairs rise.

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