Laura @ NPR “Tiny Desk”

If Laura Veirs was in a songwriting rut prior to recording her lovely and spare new album, July Flame, it doesn’t show. Perhaps the return to pared-down and simply constructed songs worked to arouse musical inspiration, because the record is among her best. For the most part, the songs on July Flame orbit around Veirs’ acoustic-guitar playing and voice. But it’s her idiosyncratic lyrics and melodic flourishes that imbue her music with sun-dappled warmth; hers is the sound of immense, wide-open spaces.

All the perfectly chosen instrumentation in the songs’ arrangements — the fluttering plucks of strings, the subtle vibrato of a marimba, the stirring backing vocal harmonies, the swooping violins — come courtesy of producer Tucker Martine. There’s a noticeable comfort between them; Martine has now worked with Veirs on her last six albums, and he seems to know just how to augment her delicate voice with just the right touches to let her shine.

When a very pregnant Veirs settled in for this performance behind Bob Boilen’s desk — a venue that can be a little awkward for many musicians — that same warmth and intimacy shone through. After a slight musical miscue, endearing enough to keep in the final video, Veirs and her small backing band treated the NPR Music offices to a three-song set that introduced us into her musical world.

  • chel

    March 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I think it’s so cool that your baby is pressed right up against the back of the guitar. I don’t know why that struck me, but it did. What a cool soundtrack to have to life inside.

  • Marion Nelson

    March 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Great, little concert!

  • Dustin

    March 2, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Yes great harms on the last track!

  • Bruce Bressack

    March 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Beautiful performance. Joyously played. Glad I stopped by to view the NPR podcast.

  • Average Bear

    March 6, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I just stumbled upon Laura’s “oeurve” a few weeks ago and downloaded a few tunes, “Summer is Champion”, among them. I enjoy listening to her music in the same way I’ve always enjoy Suzanne Vega and James Taylor. Harmonious integration of lyric and melody around very personal themes that somehow rise to universality. Universal in the same way T.S. Eliot’s “small” poems are universal. (No, I’m not an English major or a rock-biz media type, I’m a middle-aged electrical engineer from Michigan). In my mind’s eye, I also see a limited palette; not too many colors; rather like the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. It is gratifying to see that the music business can still match up an artist like Laura with an audience. Keep it real, Laura!

  • chris reddy

    March 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Great stuff as always

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