i have been loving on laura veirs’s new album, july flame, for the past two weeks.
i’d only heard her name a few times, but not her music, before seeing july flame featured on npr’s exclusive first listen. sonically, the album blends guitar fingerpicking and piano with occasional string arrangements to create an understated and stripped-down ambience. veirs’s lyrics are brimming with natural imagery (which makes sense, considering she wrote most of the songs in her barn in portland, oregon): from bears and buffalo to dandelions and maple trees, her songs are a dream of warmth, a longing for summer in the dead of winter.
but july flame isn’t just a tree-hugging album for granolas: veirs, with equal parts softness and potency, sings about self-censorship in the wake of love lost on “i can see your tracks” (“oh i can see your tracks / but i won’t follow them / i’ll just hope for rain /… to erase them”), about being present in the present on “little deschutes” (“why care about yesterday’s haze / when the stars above are all ablaze?”), and about the limitations of human creation (“i wanted to make something built to last / a bottled ship with a golden mast / and through the squall the course stays true / make something good”) as well as its possibilities (“it’s going to take a long, long time / but we’re going to make something so fine”) on “make something good.”
after many listenings, i have a huge appreciation for veirs’s subtlety and sparseness, for how much she says without actually saying it.