The Oregon songwriter’s 12th album is replete with beautifully crafted songs that celebrate fresh starts and new beginnings
The concept of the break-up album is a tried and tested one, but Laura Veirs‘ 12th solo album seems to be a whole level above that. Viers’ marriage to her long-term producer Tucker Martine broke down in 2019, and Found Light is billed as her first album with her own co-production credit.
Artistically at least, divorce seems to have given Veirs a new lease of life. While the delicate folk-pop which made her name is still very much in evidence – you’ll probably not hear a more beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar all year – there are also unexpected turns into new musical directions.
After some initial sessions with Death Cab For Cutie guitarist and keyboard player Dave Depper, the bulk of the album has been co-produced by Shahzad Ismaily, who gives the album a relaxed, yet focused, sheen. As ever with Veirs, these are beautifully crafted songs – the arrangements of the percussion and guitar on Signals are nothing short of hypnotic – while lyrically there’s much focus on letting go and building a new start.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on early track Ring Song where Veirs looks at her wedding ring and feels “sad, but also felt a weight go flying”. The song’s beautiful acoustic arrangement just adds to the reflective, bittersweet atmosphere. Kate Stables from This Is The Kit adds vocals to the similarly tranquil Autumn Song (“I make a list of ways to be free, and ways to let go” runs one line, continuing the post-divorce theme) while woodwind instruments give the pastoral ballad Naked Hymn an added texture.
What lifts up Found Light up another level though is the tracks where Veirs goes beyond her comfort zone. Eucalyptus is possibly the best song on the album, full of skittering electronic beats, isolating the vocals to terrific effect, while Seaside Haiku employs crunching guitars and nods to early Liz Phair at times. Closing track Winter Windows is probably the most startling song on the album though, a fuzzy garage rocker which brings the album to an urgent, pulsating end.
There’s also, inevitably, a heavy emotional weight to much of Future Weight. T & O is genuinely affecting, an acoustic ballad which sees Veirs singing “don’t forget, don’t forget, that I really love you and I always will”, while Sword Song sees her muse that “death is about the ending, but also the beginning”, another poignant contemplation on how the end of a relationship doesn’t always have to be a negative thing.
Future Light marks a new beginning for Veirs both personally and musically. Indeed it’s a record that celebrates fresh starts and new beginnings, and listening to how she expands her musical palette on this album, it’s an exciting thought to wonder where she’ll go next.