tue 11/12/2018

CD: Laura Veirs - The Lookout | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laura Veirs - The Lookout

CD: Laura Veirs - The Lookout

Assured 10th album from the American singer-songwriter

Laura Veirs: country-ish songs in a baroque frame

Two minutes into The Lookout, a couple of related parallels bubble up when the David Crosby of If I Could Only Remember my Name and Gene Clark at his most sparse spring to mind. It’s not that the album’s opening cut “Margaret Sands” sounds like either but that the creative outlook is similar: a country-ish singer-songwriter setting their composition in a baroque musical frame.

The rest of The Lookout is similarly conscious of how the form of delivery can shape a song. Yet such suggestions of lineage – an awareness of the classic – soon vanish. Ultimately and satisfyingly, Laura Veirs’s 10th solo album is about its 12 songs.

She has said it’s a concept album about the fragility of precious things. And despite the presence of guest vocalists Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Sufjan Stevens as well as instrumental contributors Karl Blau, Tucker Martine and more, it is her album. “When it Grows Darkest” employs a psychedelic drone and “The Canyon” is jazzy. “Seven Falls” is close to straight country and features the memorable lines “How can a child of the sun be so cold… so cold… like a caveman they found on the frozen flats.” But because of the way the songs flow, The Lookout begs to be heard as a whole. Overall, the mood is reflective, with Veirs’s quartz-like voice the central unifying factor.

This, her first solo album in five years, follows her collaboration with kd lang and Neko Case. As such, The Lookout is a reclamation and, fittingly, its concerns are personal: ageing, dealing with a disordered America, parenthood, the balances struck in life. Continuity with her own professional past comes through her still being signed to Bella Union, the label she was on before the case/lang/veirs album. Whether The Lookout will achieve the same level of commercial success as that trio is impossible to call, but an album as assured as this deserves to.

Overleaf: watch Laura Veirs perform The Lookout's "Seven Falls"

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