On her seventh album, Portland-based alternative folk singer Laura Veirs offers a collection of simple, graceful alt-folk songs filled out with careful arrangements and moving harmonies.
In folk music, the line between heartbreakingly beautiful and dreadfully dull is a fine one. Thankfully, on her seventh full length album, American alternative folkster Laura Veirs manages to stay on the right side of it, for the most part anyway. July Flame is a dangerously slight album. Dangerously, in that it would be easy to dismiss it on first listen as just another alt-folk album among the many, but with time, the details and nuances of July Flame become more and more endearing.
There's a wonderful sense of light and airiness throughout this record, often balanced by the male backing vocals of My Morning Jacket's Jim James. Elsewhere, the see-sawing strings of 'Wide-Eyed, Legless' are particularly ear-catching, while 'Summer is the Champion' provides a much needed change of pace, upping the tempo with jazzy piano and horn accompaniment. 'Sleeper In The Valley' is an absolute delight, acoustic guitars plucking in counterpoint while soft bells and keyboards play in sharp contrast to the malaise of shearing strings, all of it drowned in a hazy, dreamlike reverb.
Unfortunately several songs fail to assert themselves as anything more than sweet though not particularly special acoustic numbers. 'Sun Is King' radiates country and western sensibilities with its solid tempo and slide guitar, but its rigid structure does become tedious before the end. Similarly, 'Silo Song' builds its arrangement with banjo upon strings, expanding percussion and vocal harmonies as the song progresses, but still the melody fails to hold attention. Still, there's more than enough rousing moments to outweigh those that are less so.