Laura Veirs was our first-ever Artist To Watch way back in 2004, and, well, we’re still watching. Today, the singer-songwriter is announcing her 11th solo album, My Echo, which she describes as her “‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album.” As she explains:
My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a “Secret Poetry Group” that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.
In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.
Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (“Turquoise Walls”). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (“Memaloose Island”). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (“Vapor Trails” and “All the Things”). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (“Freedom Feeling”). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (“Another Space and Time”).
Veirs is also sharing the album’s glowing lead single “Burn Too Bright.” Here’s what she has to say about it:
I wrote about a million versions of this song before landing on this version at the end of the recording session for my new album “My Echo” last summer. (I think I actually wrote 14 versions and this final one made the cut.) Sometimes a song pours out fully finished and sometimes I need to wrack my brain and try many different approaches until it feels right. This one messed with me for a long time and I almost gave up on it – but I’m glad I persevered because this is one of my favorite tracks on the new album.
The song was inspired by the passing of the great NW producer and musician Richard Swift. I didn’t know him personally but he was a close friend to many in my community and I admire his artistry a lot. His death got me thinking about people who seem to “burn too bright” for this world. The song is dedicated to the many bright, artistic and heroic souls who have sadly left this plane too soon.
In March I had been walking my dog around the neighborhood thinking about how to make a cool video with sidewalk chalk and this concept came to mind. It was shot by Lance Bangs with assistance from Twixx Williams right before lockdown. It was drawn be me, my two sons Oz (7) and Tennessee (10) and our babysitter Lori VanRavenhorst over the course of 8 hours in a church parking lot in NE Portland. We did a lot of thinking and planning and measuring to get it right. Much of the video was shot from the ground; I love how the entire piece is revealed in the final drone shot.
It was fun to see people stop and look at the chalk art as we were making it and after we were finished many neighbors gathered to admire it. The next day rains came and washed the chalk away. Much of my new album is about disintegration, death and the ephemeral nature of things, so the making – and nature’s taking away – of this giant bright chalk drawing fits well into the album’s overall concept.
01 “Freedom Feeling”
02 “Another Space And Time”
03 “Turquoise Walls”
04 “Memaloose Island”
05 “End Times”
06 “Burn Too Bright”
07 “Brick Layer”
08 “All The Things”
09 “I Sing To The Tall Man”
10 “Vapor Trails”
My Echo is out 10/23 on Veirs’ Raven Marching Band label.