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Laura Veirs

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Laura Veirs
On Her Own For the First Time
Paradise-January 25, 2006
By: Judy Nee

If given the labels "instant classic" and "transcendent" by critics scare you into silence, then you certainly aren't Laura Veirs. Since her powerful debut in 2003 with Carbon Glaciers, Veirs says that after reading her critics, ones who gave positive commendations on her guitar strumming songs, a combination of folk, blues, and bluegrass, she decided, "I don't want to read my own press. I write to write, free from the influence of others. I want to free myself from the critic, which is me." She restricts the music she listens to herself while writing and shuns reading any of the ever-increasing press. For Laura Veirs, it's about pure artistry. Tonight, she will bring some of that to Boston's Paradise.

The show will include music from Year of Meteors and Carbon Glacier, the newest and debut album of the famed musician. Although her newest collaboration with her band Tortured Souls was first and foremost a band album, Ms. Veirs credits band members Steve Moore, Karl Blau, and producer Tucker Martine for giving her the music background to strike out on her own. It is onstage and in rehearsal where the musician has been able to expand her abilities with her guitar and writing. Even her newest album was written while on tour for Carbon Glacier.

Ms. Veirs' tour is the anticipated signal of her first solo run. Ms. Veirs says it was Colin Meloy of the Decembrists, the headline of the show, who initially suggested the idea. The thought of performing alone seems to daunt and excite the artist, a geology turned singer-songwriter. She describes the nail-biting, nerve-wracking feelings at the start of being onstage crooning her own lyrics, but once out, feels confidant, almost proud to be on her own. Together, Ms. Veirs and Mr. Meloy will set for New York, Philadelphia, and Virginia before sheplays with Pure Horsehair in Europe.

It is actually overseas that Ms. Veir's musical career jumpstarted. After a lucky break with Nonesuch to produce Carbon Glacier, the musician played to European crowds who appreciated music that diverged from the mainstream. Ms. Veirs attributes her European success to luck, but observes that the Europeans, a great majority who play instruments themselves and attend concerts more regularly, were ready for her music.

Although her lyrics give us into an intimate world, Ms. Veirs keeps a certain distance. When describing the creative process, Ms. Veirs seems almost protective of her tricks of the art, of elucidating a perhaps unconscious process that has seemed to fulfill her creative spirit. Perhaps this is the appeal of her music. Her dream-like lyrics, abloom with eels, sailors, and galaxies, are taken from journal writings meticulously kept on the road. While keeping herself protected, she gives some of herself to those who listen. The artist, a self-proclaimed lover of surrealism in both writing and painting, attempts to bridge the gap between the dream and the everyday.

In fact, the story of how she came to choose music is like a dream in itself. Ms. Veirs was introduced to the guitar by her brother, who merely showed her a few chords when she was nineteen. Since then, she describes a yearning to push herself to learn, listening to records, taking lessons, and finally, beginning to learn to improvise. Ms. Veirs was studying geology and mandarin Chinese in college in Minnesota when she realized her true passion was in writing and music. "Science was just too abstract for me," the singer recalls. "Music marries the heart and the mind. It gives me a certain connectedness." Her parents, both teachers, and her brother, an oceanographer, encouraged her decision. "They gave me a sense of adventure. [I knew] I can do whatever I want."

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