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July Flame
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  • In some ways, July Flame might seem to mark a kind of scaling back for Laura Veirs. After a few years on Nonesuch, she has returned to the indie world, and where those Nonesuch releases found her pursuing a more band-oriented, rockish direction, this one harks back to Veirs' folkie beginnings; the arrangements are centered squarely around her own acoustic picking. That's not to imply that July Flame is any kind of step backwards, though; Veirs' producer/boyfriend, Tucker Martine, is still helping her to turn her visions into reality, as he has done since 2003's Troubled by the Fire, and there's a full complement of players supporting those visions here -- they're simply deployed in a more subtle manner. Veirs cut her regular band loose before the making of July Flame, mostly for logistical reasons, hence the change of direction. There are a couple of relatively rhythmic cuts here, like the title track, and the backbeat-driven "Summer is the Champion," whose pounding piano, `60s pop guitar, and horn punctuation evoke Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles, but they are exceptions to the rule. When Veirs sings "I want nothing more than to float with you" on "Little Deschutes" (Deschutes is a county in her and Martine's home state of Oregon, in case you were wondering), it can be seen as both an emotional agenda and a musical mission statement. In terms of the latter, a number of tunes on July Flame seem to be rooted in -- if not overtly inspired by -- Veirs and Martine's state of romantic bliss, especially the dreamy "When You Give Your Heart." If their personal connection is anything like their musical one it's easy to understand why; Martine brings just the right touches to the tracks, with eerie backing vocals, coloristic percussion, and evocative strings popping up at just the right moments and then disappearing again when they're no longer needed. There are no wasted notes anywhere on July Flame, neither in Martine's production nor Veirs' tightly written (but still expressionistically poetic) compositions. ~ J. Allen
Professional Reviews
Spin (p.72) - "[T]he Oregon folkie's seventh album contains mellow pleasures for patient listeners."

Entertainment Weekly (p.73) - "Veirs sends us on hikes through dreamy landscapes...casting minimal instrumentation in glistening arrangements to captivate the melancholy imagination." -- Grade: A-

Paste (magazine) (p.60) - "[A] melancholy meditation on happiness and delicate transience....JULY FLAME is carefully composed, ever-deepening, glinting and glowing in new ways each time it's played..."
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