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'Found Light' is the Rebirth of Laura Veirs
Co-producing for the first time, Veirs sounds reinvigorated on her twelfth record.
During the recording of her last album, My Echo, Portland indie-folk staple Laura Veirs announced she was getting a divorce. While this life event is always painful, for Veirs, it also meant a break with the producer of her albums since beginning her recording career a little over two decades ago. My Echo was the last collaboration with ex-husband Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, First Aid Kit, etc.), an in-studio document of the end of their relationship.
Three years later, Veirs is back with her stunning twelfth album, Found Light, which in a way, acts as a welcomed reintroduction to the singer-songwriter. For the first time, Veirs co-produced, working with friend Shahzad Ismaily, a prolific musician who has worked with everyone from Helado Negro to the latest from Tomberlin. The twosome further explores her strengths while adding organic textures that help breathe new life into her work, giving it an air of freshness.
For the most part, Found Light sticks to the hushed folk music associated with Veirs, but the familiarity is now supported by well-placed horns and strings that round out her sound. Ismaily encouraged Veirs to simultaneously sing and play guitar while recording for the first time - I went back to a few of my favorite albums of hers to compare the sonics, from Year of Meteors to July Flame and The Lookout, and the subtle honing of intimacy on Found Light is the sound of an artist reborn.
A perfect example is “Ring Song,” in which Veirs sings of far-off stars over a gorgeous nylon-stringed guitar. At the same time, the distant piano lets the listener feel Veirs’ release when she sings, “I pawned my wedding ring, At the Silver Lining, I felt sad, I also felt a weight go flying.” Similar atmospheres allow “Signal” to melodically coil, while “Eucalyptus” uses a galloping electronic beat to illustrate Veirs’ morning run meditations.
It’s easy to get lost in the quiet reflections of Found Light, but there are a few times Veirs picks up the pace with great payoff. Early in the record, Veirs hits the distortion pedal on “Seaside Haiku.” “Give but don’t give too much, Have yourself away,” sings Veirs as the guitars work in cyclical shore-crashing textures. At fourteen songs, Found Light is also her most prolonged effort yet, and it’s worth hanging around for the closing track, “Winter Windows,” which finally brings in a complete drum kit, cramming it with rolling fills to make a damn good indie rock number - it opens a new sound for her and I would love to hear Veirs do a full band record.
While living in Portland all of those years ago, Laura Veirs was one of my favorite local discoveries, and I’m always delighted at her steady stream of autumnal albums. Found Light is something different, though, and has a fresh feeling. What Veirs has overcome should be celebrated as a woman in her late 40s experiencing a creative rebirth and newfound empowerment. None of that is easy in an industry that superficially values youth and immediacy.
Found Light is available now on Raven Marching Band.
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Hear songs from Found Light and so much more on the Good Ass Songs 2022 playlist!