Warp and Weft is Laura Veirs’ ninth studio album, and the second on her own Raven Marching Bands label. Her first self-released title was 2010’s July Flame; between that album and Warp and Weft she put out Tumble Bee, a beautiful album of songs for children that was more rediscovered folk than night-time nursery rhyme. Add to that the Two Beers Veirs EP and you have an artist happy to tread her own path, guided by the footprints of those who have gone before.
Warp and Weft is picked and plucked in typically intimate and beguiling Veirs style, this time enriched by an ever growing band of collaborators. Opening track and single Sun Song features vocals from Neko Case, her harder, lower register neatly complementing Veirs’ own softness and fragility.
Combinations like this are at the heart of Warp and Weft. As the title suggests, the weaving together of parts is one of the album’s overall themes; it’s a title that Veirs has been holding back until the time and the music was right. Here, the weaving is of artists, ideas, and lyrics past and present. On Finster Saw The Angels , she is joined by KD Lang on a song about the folk artist Henry Finster, designer of the cover to REM’s Fables of the Reconstruction, while That Alice gives a little love for jazz pianist Alice Coltrane.
On Dorothy of the Island, Veirs launches into lines from Motherless Children, a song of unknown origin that’s been around in recorded form since the 1920s. The inspiration? Perhaps Veirs’s own fears on becoming a mother for the second time and, as she says in a making-of video, realising what it means to bring someone onto this earth, and the corresponding fear of losing someone. This theme travels east on Sadako Folding Cranes, an oriental tinged account of a young survivor of Hiroshima.
Warp and Weft ends with a lengthy jazz outro in the meandering shape of White Cherry. It’s a meditative, woozy sunset finale, the end of a journey that began with the Spring dawn of Sun Song, and the feeling of intense joy and gratitude that arrives with the rising sun, and the change of the seasons.
And the warmth of a new Laura Veirs album.
Watch the Warp and Weft making-of video.