Appearances can be deceptive. With her thick spectacles and solemn expression, Laura Veirs looks like she's spent most of her life in the library. The constant references to earth, fire and water in her songs, however, suggest that she's a much more elemental kind of girl. This is the follow-up to last year's acclaimed Carbon Glacier and while it's a slightly less intimate record, the alt-folk songwriting is as impressive as ever. With her lyrical elegance and jazzy arrangements, she crafts absorbing studies of fragile relationships that recall the best of another cerebral American singer-songwriter, Suzanne Vega. Pretty and strange in equal measure, this album confirms Veirs as one of the most intriguing talents to come along in years.