Laura Veirs

The Lookout

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Taking a cue from her excellent 2016 collaboration with Neko Case and k.d. lang, The Lookout, Laura Veirs' tenth studio long-player is a sonically breezy yet lyrically bold amalgam of imagery-rich Pacific Northwest Americana, reverb-laden indie pop, and intimate electronics-tinged folk. It's also her most compelling set of material to date, effectively pairing her understated vocals with arrangements that are as pillowy and warm as they are spilling over with interesting ideas. Too often tagged with words like dependable and steadfast, Veirs may not be the most commanding presence, but she more than held her own against the sizable personalities of Case and lang, and she imbues The Lookout with that same quiet confidence, deftly weaving richly detailed, forward-thinking confections out of confessional singer/songwriter tropes. Produced by husband Tucker Martine (First Aid Kit, She & Him), the 12-track set is both expansive and profoundly intimate, with Veirs focusing her attention on the precarious space that human beings occupy socially and physically in an increasingly polarized and digitized world. My Morning Jacket's Jim James lends his voice to a lovely rendering of the Grateful Dead's "Mountains of the Moon," and Veirs elicits some spirited shouts from her children and their cousin on the spacy campfire jam "Lightning Rod." "Everybody Needs You," "When It Grows Darkest," and "Watch Fire," the latter of which features a guest vocal by Sufjan Stevens, resonant on both a sonic level -- Martine maintains an almost liquid atmosphere throughout -- and an emotional one, as Veirs tends to choose empathy over irony, anger, or sarcasm, while staring down existential dread.

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