‘Here, do you want to review this? Track two is pretty good.’ That’s the kind of major decision making that sometimes goes on in the engine room of State but it belies the wisdom in the observation for track two, the title track incidentally, on Laura Veirs seventh studio album is magical and it sets the scene for an album of perfected melodies, dripping in a warm, low-fi and folky atmosphere.
Laura Veirs has the look of a pretty librarian and the updates from her current tour reveal her to be heavy with child. This album was recorded at home with producer Tucker Martine and with all these facts, it’s no surprise that it’s the sort of warm album that feels like a log fire in your living room. Nothing here is done to excess, though many styles, and instruments raise their head over the course of its 13 tracks. Some songs, including the opener, are pure acoustic guitar and Veirs’ confident voice, and at some points can remind you of perhaps Band Of Horses at their quietest with its tints of country, but there’s folk and some gorgeous string arrangements in there, a touch of elecronica in parts. Then one might think of Juliana Hatfield and then you just think that you’re not very good at comparisons and you go back to the record.
In fact it’s just when you think you like one style of song over another, that you hear something that changes your mind. The sweeter, more acoustic numbers will all of a sudden have a beautiful string arrangement appear (-Make Something Good’) or some perfect chord-change (When You Give Your Heart). The aforementioned track two is a slow-building, sparse number which goes from mellow folky beginnings, gathering piano, choir, strings and handclaps as well as what sounds like a flute over the course of its four minutes. It’s instantly lovable.
Sometimes it does get a bit, well nice perhaps, like too many primary colours. The more memorable songs are the ones with a more subdued feeling – but there are plenty of these. When Veirs gets it right she really nails it (-Silo Song’ takes the gold medal here, then -Where Are You Driving?’).
With the feeling of a solo album as opposed to some of her more band-lead previous albums, it’s still packed with nuances and massive amounts of warmth – flitting in and out of any lazy genres a reviewer might try to impose on it. It’s basically hot chocolate with a little brandy in it and with the freezing fog outside and what-not, July Flame is thoroughly recommended at this time of year.