This is Laura Veirs’ ninth album and this talented female singer-songwriter has somehow passed me by all these years. I may no longer wear heavy skirts, or seek out so many boycotts that my nutritional well being starts to suffer, or listen to this sort of stuff any more. But when I hear about Laura Veirs, I realise that I still have a yearning to recreate the freshness of those first few Tori Amos fuelled years of my musical life.
My last long term audio love affair with the genre was with Old Low Light (2008) by Kathryn Williams. But after a while we kinda died on each other. I get tired of that pure folk stuff, and just want it to let go a bit and stop being so gentle and restrained.
So, yeah… Warp and Weft is good! I like the album’s title, with its emphasis on the craft of singing and songwriting.
There’s a disappointed reviewer on Amazon.co.uk who would like Laura to go back to pure folk. I have to say that, despite my folk misgivings, I too prefer the folky tracks and am not too keen on the rockier ones. However, that’s only a couple of tracks on the album, and I do wonder whether these experiments have rubbed off on the other tracks for the better. I certainly enjoyed most of the non-rock tracks more than I normally enjoy folk.
I was most impressed by the beautiful, often vocally tricky melodies, which Laura manages to riff up and down effortlessly. It’s not all tight control – if she wants to let go, she does. It’s all there in her voice, from a whisper, right up to a cry.
Laura’s last album was one made for children, Tumble Bee, in 2011. Realising this was what gave me an Aha! moment as I struggled to figure out why the opener, Sun Song, was giving me this weird feeling of déja-vu (deja-écouté?)… there’s a recurring phrase that sounds a lot like “The animals came in two by two”. I don’t know if that was at all intentional? It could have been, as Laura was pregnant when she made this album. It’s been a long time since I went through all that pregnancy and bonding with your baby stuff. The lyrics on Sun Song really brought it all back to me (even though I’m not too sure what they mean).
Other motherhood inspired moments are the refrain from the traditional song Motherless Children. And there’s a moving song about true story of Sadako and the paper cranes.
Hearing this album made me wonder too why there aren’t more songs in the world about motherhood, when it’s such a tender, emotional time. You’re vulnerable and hormonal, and you’ll never be launched upon such a new, different adventure in your life again. And then the novelty is over so quickly – it’s lost in baby gym and nursery and lunch boxes. Also that awkward business of them developing a personality pops up and you forget about the magic as you descend into screaming at each other over clearing up mess. Unless someone captures the magic for you, like this.
This isn’t really my type of music any more. But it’s beautiful and tuneful and it means something and it was made by someone who cares about it. Listening to it makes me realise that however much I think I have changed, and however much I still want to, some things will always stay with me.