Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames, Old Believers, Cataldo | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames, Old Believers, Cataldo Member Picks Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sat., Feb. 27, 10 p.m. 2010

On the superb new July Flame (Raven Marching Band), Portland singer-songwriter Laura Veirs uses stripped-down arrangements, but her lyrics are lavish—she fills her elegantly rustic songs with visions of nature's abundance and beauty. The title track is named after the fiery-colored peaches she buys at an Oregon farmers' market, and in "Little Deschutes" she sings with glowing wonderment about a canoe trip with her lover, turning even its mishaps into revelations ("Paddling through the hail storm / Clothes ravaged, the leaves all torn / A part of me was born"). One exception is "Carol Kaye," a salute to the legendary session bassist, but even there Veirs conveys an endearing sense of awe. Most of the songs on July Flame create intimacy with a smallness that invites the listener to come close—their backdrops are usually nothing but acoustic-guitar arpeggios, sparse drumming, spectral viola (played by regular collaborator Eyvind Kang), and subtle, meticulous washes of vocal harmonies. This leaves the focus squarely on Veirs's charmingly unfancy singing. Even though her delivery still sounds a bit stiff, the gentle production (by Tucker Martine, who also worked on Bill Frisell's Floratone) softens the boxy 4/4 feel of her phrasing, and with each album her melodies get prettier and more expansive. Veirs headlines with her band the Hall of Flames; she plays guitar and banjo, Alex Guy plays violin, Eric Anderson plays bass, Nelson Kempf plays guitar and keys, and everybody sings. The Old Believers and Cataldo open. Veirs also plays a free, all-ages show at 5:30 PM at Corbett vs. Dempsey, 1120 N. Ashland. —Peter Margasak

Price: $14

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