Veirs cuts a geeky, confident figure onstage. Her voice is lucid, child-like, delivered without pretension, without a trace of vibrato or studied ‘singerly’ embellishment. Now it is sharp and true; now it is feathery and intimate. Whether given in wide, bold strokes or in soft pastels, it is always ingenuous and always at the service of the song.
Veirs’ style is a perfectly balanced blend of folk, indie and poetic, lyrically driven songwriting. Matt Burger adds hints of jazz here and there, with his spry, offbeat drumming, and the band’s use of keyboards brings middle-of-the-road flavours without meandering too far into dreamy blandness.
This is the last night of Veirs’ and her band’s European tour – showcasing the new album The Lookout – and they show us their ability to create soundscapes and beautiful widescreen atmospheres without dozens of musicians or a NASA style set-up. They are at ease and deliver a fresh, vivid set that shows what a consummately gifted unit they are. Veirs’ lyrics pierce the well-crafted arrangements and highlight her uniquely crystalline intelligence. Highlights for me were the two songs from 2005’s Year of Meteors, ‘Spelunking’ and ‘Galaxies’. Her songs are filled with natural forces that express the inner life as they also threaten and situate that inner life among the forces, objects, elements and phenomena of the physical world: ‘If I took you darling to the caverns of my heart, would you light the lamp dear, and see fish without eyes, bats with their heads hanging down towards the ground, would you still come around?’ From the new album, ‘The Meadow’ is as simple and perfect as a Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson poem: ‘We went to the meadow, we knew it wouldn’t last.’
Laura Veirs gives me hope that humanity might just make it through.
Monday 11th June, 7.30pm