Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Saltbreakers - Laura Veirs

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Well wouldn't you believe it. No sooner do I review the single, the album appears before me. Magically. ;-D

Laura Veirs was up to 5 albums, the wonderful Year Of Meteors, before I discovered her, but I soon found out that she had a wonderful back catalogue and she quickly became one of my quiet favourites. Her name is met by blank stares by most people I talk to but few can resist her charms given a gentle prodding.

For this new album the Tortured Souls are no-more, although it seems to be merely cosmetic. The line-up for new backing band The Saltbreakers seems largely the same, including that Bjorn Borg look-a-like Karl Blau.

Obstentiously about the break-up of a long-term relationship, Saltbreakers is nonetheless steeped in the kind of dreamy imagery contained within Year Of Meteors and this time, as the title would suggest, there is a distinct focus on the ocean (and the cosmos) which is not entirely unexpected from Veirs.

Of course the danger so far is that it all sounds a little too like her last album for comfort, but that is not a worry. Whilst there are definite stylistic similarities, and indeed the album isn't as entirely successful as it's predecessor, its still a great piece of work in it's own right.

Don't Lose Yourself (with it's "debt" to the written prose of Jose Saramago) could well be a Meteors outtake but actually convinces as more than that. Light synth drums are joined by piano's and strings and the song slowly build into layers upon layers of sublime imagery. Pink Light uses its atmospheric and hypnotic guitars to great effect and turns up the "rock" friendly approach just a notch.

Cast A Hook is another great track, which again slowly builds from a mellow start into something very memorable indeed.

If there is to be one criticism it is that the album as a whole does sound a little similar throughout, both in comparison to Year Of Meteors and within itself as well. And ultimately any comparisons to it's predecessor will only highlight that this doesn't quite match up.

Still it's a very good record in it's own right and goes a good way to cementing Veirs' reputation as one of the brightest and most intriguing songwriters of her day.

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