It’s an odd melting pot akin to the real America: a bright, yet often tragic land of harmonious contradictions.

Laura Veirs, a regular guest with The Decemberists and a passionate artist in her own right, is an all-American. Born in Colorado, bouncing around to Minnesota (and briefly to China), she’s now a native of Portland, channelling her frustrations into music. Veirs joins with some impressive collaborators here including k.d. lang, Neko Case and Brian Blade to name but a few.

 

A deep love for the heartland courses through this record. Electric guitars and fiddles splash over tunes with country twang. Veirs’ breathy, woodwind-like voice dances on air but her words often sting. “How can it be so cold out here in America?” she gracefully coos on acoustic ballad ‘America’. Everybody’s packing heat in America / Training their barrels on the city streets of America”.

 

Old dustbowl bluegrass lilts around ‘Sun Song’and Fenders crank into overdrive for shuffling rocker ‘Say Darlin’ Say’. Pace tumbles over alt-country rock on ‘That Alice’, a rock bio of jazz harpist Alice Coltrane. Folky guitars and melancholy harmony haunt ‘Dorothy Of The Island’ (AKA ‘Motherless Children’); and vivid harp and guitar spark up ‘Sadako Folding Cranes’, a track whichdeals with the atomic horrors of World War II.

 

Amidst a flood of female singer-songwriters, this isn’t a flat batch of cardigan-clad ditties fit for hatchback commercials. In essence, Warp & Weft carves up a hearty slice of adult contemporary Americana. 

 

3.5/5 stars

 

BY TOM VALCANIS

 

Warped & Weft is out now through Bella Union/Mushroom.

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