Album Review: Laura Veirs – My Echo

Recording her new album My Echo with her husband as the producer, while going through couples therapy which lead to an eventual divorce must have added more than a little tension to this new project by Laura Veirs.

However unlike say the Chicks angry and vengeful divorce epic Gaslighter, My Echo does not take aim at her partner, instead turning the disquieting feelings inwards. She accepts the crumbling reality of life and love, transforming her feelings into a quietly moving collection of songs.

Inspired partly by a Lorca poem, opening song Freedom Feeling begins us with a hopeful, searching song about looking for the possibilities in life and finding them inside of yourself all along. The music builds quietly into a lush, orchestral sigh.

On Another Time and Space she imagines a better world where nature isn’t burning and the internet is dead. In this happy place we all have peace of mind, free from horror and distraction. Utopian visions are comforting and welcome always, especially now.

The inventive musical style of the album engages the listener throughout – combining alternative folk and indie rock with hints of jazz and orchestral flourishes. Turquoise Walls creates a sense of unease and foreboding as she details the slow unraveling realisation that something is not right in her relationship. Her own paranoia and jealously are exposed with blistering insight. To know the relationship ends creates further empathy in the listener.

Memaloose Island is more of an alternative take on americana, a song rooted in specifics of place but never trapped in genre conventions. As she sings softly ‘I was born to be alive’ we hear birdsong and a sense of joy from being with someone, appreciating nature no matter how difficult things can be.

Burn Too Bright is probably about her husband, but it could be about anyone whose personality perhaps leads them towards selfishness. Sometimes those who wander are painfully, permanently lost and the quicker we accept it the better.

Bricklayer is a really interesting song – a poetic take on how easy relationships can be built and destroyed. I’m still learning the rules / Of how to treat somebody right, she muses. On All The Things she admits that ‘all the things I cannot Hold / I cannot save’ with love being that elusive, ephemeral feeling that is always just out of reach.

She offers some solace on ‘I sing to the Tall Man’, inviting him to rest a while in her song, to live in happy denial of their problems. Like a sweet lullaby sung to a crying child it comforts and soothes.

The final song Vapor Trails, with guest vocals from Jim James, looks to the skies and compares love to passing planes she sees, there one moment and gone. It’s painful and yet she doesn’t dwell in her anger or misery. Instead she knows this is the circle of life for us all and resolves to ‘build up stronger next time’.

My Echo is a perfect soundtrack to these End Times – sometimes sad, sometimes painful, yet filled with bittersweet hope for the future.

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