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July Flame 
Artists:  Laura Veirs
Label:  Raven Marching Band Records
Length:  13 Tracks / 44 Minutes

On her seventh release, Laura Veirs, leaves behind the rock sound of her past couple of releases and, in turn releases a more sparse folkish pop record.  Though sometimes the album feels heavier in tone than previous efforts, don’t be fooled.  There is plenty here to enjoy and relish.

Overall, the album feels very organic and unforced.  The production is very spacious and open, and is never too busy for the songs.  Producer Tucker Martine adds just the right touches of percussion, guitars, and vocals for each song.  Nothing that Martine does feels wasted here at all.

Lyrically, many of the tracks seem like Veirs is trying to capture life at very specific moments and she succeeds.   As Veirs sings in the lovely acoustic song “Life Is Good Blues,”

Life is good when the band is smoking hot
The drummer drums
Like it’s the last chance that he got
Boats light up the river like a string of flame
Life is good
Other highlights for me include “Little Deschutes”, “Summer Is The Champion”, and “Sun Is King.”

It feels like Veirs had a great time making this record. For a record released in January, it feels like the perfect soundtrack to a beautiful warm summer evening and should have no problem melting away the chill of winter.

By Gar Saeger
4.5/5 Stars
written 1/16/10

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