Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames

Playing music flushed with the sweet haze of midsummer—nature at its ripest—amid the bleakness of a Minnesota winter is what confronted Laura Veirs and her Hall of Flames on their visit last March. Veirs was then ripe herself (giving birth to son Tennessee in April) and undoubtedly knew what she was dealing with, as a former Minnesota resident (while attending Carleton College). Anyway, this is a more appropriate time of year for the material on July Flame, because Minnesota still retains a little of summer's warm glow, but more significantly, harvest time underscores the bittersweet reality of all that lush growth's ultimate fragility. Veirs's pop-folk tunes bloom amid arrangements that find an exquisite hazy-lazy balance on Flame, achieving a quiet intensity akin to the unbridled fertility of the July landscape. Openers Chandra and Leigh Watson's sisterly harmonies negotiate Southern soul tempered by sizable injections of vintage pop, country, noirish folk-rock, blues, and gospel. On their second album, Talking To You, Talking To Me, songs like "Midnight" probe some timeless locale somewhere between Memphis, the Brill Building, and Laurel Canyon, their precipitous harmonies riding billowing organ swells and a stinging electric guitar. Elsewhere, they surf a bossa nova wave, flirt with indie rock, and channel Carole King on "Calling Out." Additional support Led To Sea is the musical alter-ego of Alex Guy, who plays viola and violin, and is often a member of Veirs's Flames. LTS's first full-length album, Into The Darkening Sky, sports elegant, moody chamber pop that oozes and drifts over quirky, atmospheric shoals. Squally outbursts downshift into off-center meditations among the strings and peppery percussion, while Guy muses poetically about ghosts and rust. (Photo by Autumn de Wilde)
Sat., Sept. 25, 7 p.m., 2010

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