Laura Veirs and Hall of Flames

July Flame is a variety of peach Laura Veirs came across in an Oregon farmers' market. Their sweet beauty inspired her new album's title track, a lush evocation of a midsummer night's reverie, as exquisitely complex as the life teeming at that time of year. But with a slight hitch in her voice and Eyvind King's somber viola lurking deep in the mix, Veirs also provides a bittersweet hint that it's all ephemeral; July's fecund felicity inevitably yields to February's frost, and with it, she suggests, maybe love fades away, too. July Flame is a change in direction for Veirs. After several band-oriented albums for Nonesuch, she released the new one on her own Raven Marching Band Records while going for a sparer sound built around her fingerpicked guitar. The tracks are hardly bare, however, their myriad elements instead flitting about elegantly sculpted spaces: a muted choral group sidling up alongside an acoustic guitar here, splashes of Bacharach-like horns there, swirling vocal currents from Veirs and My Morning Jacket's Jim James flirting with each other against distant percussive thunder, a sneaky trace of pedal steel, a stray string quartet. With Veirs's voice often floating ethereally over the meticulous arrangements, it's almost like a subtle orchestration of summer's natural forces, in harmony until the season passes. Veirs will be backed by the Halls of Flame, likely including many of those contributing to the album. Opening will be fellow Portlanders Old Believers and Seattle's Cataldo, led by former Macalester College student Eric Anderson. All ages. (Photo by Jillian Doughty)
Tue., March 2, 7 p.m., 2010

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