Laura Veirs - July Flame
What new year's resolutions have you made? If you are planning to pump some serious iron at the gym (or at least join, go three times but pay your membership all year to alleviate the guilt) this probably isn’t going to feature on your workout list. If, however, you are planning to ignore the rat-race and chill-out then July Flame might be just what you are looking for.
This is the seventh album from this mild-mannered native of Portland, Oregon. She’s avoided the lure of a speed metal reinvention and stuck to her amiable brand of charming folk songs. Musically it’s quite a sombre affair, but it’s Laura’s compassionate voice that keeps the fire burning and the heart beating. Calm, yet confident. Encouraging feet to be put up and worries chased away.
As she gently plucks her banjo on album highlight ‘Where Are You Driving’ it becomes apparent her awareness of song structure has grown since 2007’s Saltbreakers. She understands the dynamics of light and dark, knowing when it’s alright to simply leave space between the notes and let the magic just happen. It’s quite a thing of beauty to experience.
On ‘Sun Is King’ her voice exhibits a childlike beauty similar to The Sundays Harriet Wheeler. When juxtaposed with the elegantly played steel guitars it transcends anything she has done before. It doesn’t push too hard, just plays it simple and heartfelt.
So if someone beat you to the last seat on the train or was trying to use coupons on the self-service checkout this could be your way out. Open that bottle of red, run a bath, put this CD and think of those poor saps on the rowing machine. You’ll feel your blood pressure plummet in seconds.