Laura Veirs has been quietly churning out albums for the past 20 years. The Lookout, a beautiful example of her subtly perfect modern folk, is a rich addition to her prolific oeuvre. As always, the production, a collaboration between Veirs and her husband Tucker Martine, sparkles with delicate and wry touches. It is a method that reflects intimacy in sound.
Each track on The Lookout incorporates a natural element. Primarily pastoral, and occasionally supernatural, Veirs’ songwriting feels unique in 2018. Too grounded to ever be full-on Fleet Foxes, the album is an adventure through an intimate landscape. Surreal lyrics (“two koi fish, turning in the sky / one’s in your brain, the other’s in your thigh”) and isolated electric guitar riffs are unique, but never out of place.
The breath that opens “Margaret Sands” says “I’m ready to go.” A deep hum in the background accompanies fastidious fingerpicking. Veirs, a consummate musician with an unwavering work ethic, has somehow found a way to create consistently with a strong sense of individuality. Every song is special, tied together by a thoughtful thesis. Her remarkable balance of airy and rooted feels like a tightrope walk, exhilarating and exact. “Mountains of the Moon” demonstrates the tension beautifully, a song of fantasy and childlike imagination, that pairs a low guitar rumble with a soaring plea, “bend to me.”
The fragility and femininity of Veirs’ voice is nearly enchanting enough to obscure the braininess of her music. Dissonant chords and echo pedals keep everything fresh. Strong pop choruses come in and out, on joyful singalongs like “The Lookout” and “Watch Fire,” a vibrant song with Sufjan Stevens stepping in to match her dreaminess in his echo. Stevens, a frequent collaborator, feels like the truest comparison to Veirs at the moment. They share an artist's eye and deep appreciation for traditional American folk, dressed up in modern pop clothing.
Listening to a Laura Veirs album imparts a maternal feeling. She wraps you in the warm hug of her voice. She creates a personal experience without giving away too much of herself. Her songs are not confessional, but heartfelt. The music feels measured and careful, not a single note wasted. That maternal image—Mother Earth, a creator, a mom of four—is always present throughout The Lookout.
Notable Tracks: “Everybody Needs You” | “Mountains of the Moon” | “Watch Fire”