Ever since the death of Elliott Smith there’s a distinct lack of original singer-songwriters. Sure, there are plenty of talented individuals releasing quality albums, but a lot of them choose to pay tribute to their elders rather than forming their own sound. The likes of Ani Difranco, Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens still hold the fort, but for the most part you may find yourself scratching your head when another singer strumming an acoustic guitar showcases his or her talent on the radio.
After giving Americana a much needed shot in the arm with her first albums, Laura Veirs found her true voice on the excellent Carbon Glacier. Followed by 2005’s Year of Meteors , there was no mistaking her talents. With her latest album Saltbreakers, Veirs re-visits many of the themes drawn out on her previous record. While many would claim that artists should re-invent themselves with every new record, Veirs has such a unique style that tainting it would almost be a crime.
Her uncommon lyrics, which owe a lot to her geology background, are on full display here. But while previous albums were more about description, Saltbreakers finds Veirs adding a more romantic aspect to her texts. Musically the album is more upbeat, at parts almost celebratory. Drummer Tucker Martine again helms the production with amazing minimalist flare. While the listener is not bombarded with information throughout the album, a close listen finds many subtle instrumentations and little studio tricks. Along with her voice and offbeat song-writing, the combination of acoustic guitars, delicate electronics and strange effects really serve the music well.
Stand-out tracks include the title track, which has the whole band joining in on the chorus. “To the Country” has Veirs as her own choir, while “Black Butterfly” serves as a perfect example as to how ballads should be written. Individual tracks aside, this album should really be enjoyed as a whole. There are no fillers or dull moments, and these types of records don’t come out very often. Saltbreakers deserves a prominent placement in any CD collection among other modern classics.
Originally posted on theplugg.com