Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering Mike Gentry
Laura Veirs was eight-plus months pregnant at the time of this recording. It's something that you can't pick out, no matter how hard you try - how closely you lean in. The Portland songwriter was with child for the first time and she was still out on the road, but nearing the end of this run of dates before heading home to wait out what could have been any day or any week, when that baby would be in her arms, looking up at the pretty, perfect match for a librarian that anyone could ever imagine, who happens to be its mommy. Veirs didn't seem at all too uncomfortable, and if she was, she wasn't letting on. She didn't have a noticeable waddle. She seemed to be managing fairly well, considering the circumstances and enduring lengthy van rides every morning and afternoon. This was back at the beginning of March and, by any estimates, her baby is now a few months old, still keeping her up at night. What it must be like, for that child, to be born into a home, with a mother who can make for you the kinds of dreamland whimsy and nocturnal fairy tales that Veirs makes regularly as per her vocation of music-making. It must be nice. We have no idea if Veirs has a little boy or a little girl (it never came up), but the kind of music that she created for her latest record, "July Flame," had to have crept into the womb through the vibrations, through the connected arms and throat. Every time she sang, it might have even let some of that foreign light in through the gullet and down to those new eyes for the first time. It's kind of one of the magical parts - as we want to believe it. It's something that, in listening to the album, you could see Veirs being able to accomplish - singing in the light, getting it down into her soul or an unborn baby, as is this circumstance, shedding some lovely brightness, as scientifically impractical as that may be. Her daughter or son must have been born with certain innate abilities of finding peacefulness in running water down and through a stream, in the shutting down of a day due to a nasty bout of a thunderstorm, in seeing the limbs of trees bend from the wind, in Independence Day firecrackers/sparklers tracing a name in cursive through the black night or in hanging indoors with a lap cat and a novel. He or she, from the first day, must already be versed in calm communication of feelings and colors through soft touches and just the right kinds of words. She's a woman who will love - come this winter -- getting out into a fresh snow and sharing an exuberance with her child when spotting a line of rabbit tracks clumsily tramped into the white, with a slide and smearing of dusty powder with every forward or sideways movement. She writes these kinds of moments, these times that tend to get etched into our heads from some other time in our lives, when an innocence and new sights and sensations were all that we had and all that we wanted to keep. Veirs' songs are encrypted with this same innocence, something that lets us look in on where we've been and how we used to be so much better in seeing things, in acknowledging and embracing tender beauties, even when we thought we were just looking at something and that was all, nothing else. However, she makes it known that it's so much better when the act isn't just an exercise in the mundane.