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Laura Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she often spent summers camping with her family, which gave her much of her songwriting inspiration. Veirs has said that she didn’t seriously listen to music until she was in her 20s; instead, she just heard what was in her environment. She listened to folk, country, classical and pop music around the house and on the radio during her youth.
Attending Carleton College in rural Minnesota, Veirs latched onto feminist punk rock from the Pacific Northwest, eventually starting an all-female punk band called “Rair Kx!”. Laura studied geology and Mandarin Chinese. After college, she embraced older country and folk music. Her first foray into songwriting started with a geological expedition in China, where she served as translator. She was miserable and immersed herself into writing lyrics as a way of coping.
She put out her own self-titled album Laura Veirs, recorded live and featuring just her and guitar, in 1999. She has since made five highly acclaimed records with producer Tucker Martine. 2003 saw the release of Troubled by the Fire, a full-band effort that found the artist sharing the studio with such luminaries as Bill Frisell and violist Eyvind Kang. She signed to Nonesuch Records the following year with the atmospheric follow-up Carbon Glacier. Year of Meteors followed in August 2005. She collaborated with The Decemberists on “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)”, from their 2006 album The Crane Wife. Her sixth record, Saltbreakers, was released worldwide on Nonesuch Records in April 2007.
Veirs’ seventh album, July Flame, will be released in January 2010 on her own record label, Raven Marching Band Records (in North America) and on Bella Union (in Europe and the rest of the world).
Veirs tours frequently in Europe, North America and Australia both solo and with a backing band consisting of a rotating cast including Karl Blau, Steve Moore, Tucker Martine, Keeley Boyle, Nelson Kempf, Eric Anderson, Kate O’Brien-Clarke and Alex Guy.
Veirs and Martine now live in Portland, Oregon.
One of the most inimitable songwriters of the past decade – Portland, Oregon’s Laura Veirs – returned with her ninth full-length album last August. Beautiful, lush and at times deeply dark, Warp and Weft captures the intensity of motherhood, love and violence. Primarily electric-guitar driven, it is a fever dream of an album and could well be Veirs’ best work to date, building on the uniform praise and commercial success of 2010′s “July Flame”. Below you can check out the album’s opening track, which features Neko Case on backing vocals.
The recording of ‘Warp and Weft’ (a weaving term) was a community effort. Produced in Portland in March 2013 by Veirs’ longtime collaborator Tucker Martine, the album features Jim James, KD Lang, Neko Case, Brian Blade and members of The Decemberists and many more.
Veirs sings not only of mid-winter suns, white blossoming cherry trees and melting ice, but also suicide, gun violence and war. She weaves threads of old folk songs including “Motherless Children” as well as stories of folk-art hero Howard Finster and jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. “I think of this record as a tapestry where disparate elements come together and are stronger and more lovely as a result,” says Veirs.
Veirs was eight months pregnant with her second child during the recording; she says her experience as a mother brought about some of the more beautiful and painful songs. “I’m haunted by the idea that something terrible could happen to my kids but that fear pushes me to embrace the moment. This record is an exploration of extremes – deep, dark suffering and intense, compassionate love.”
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