Laura Veirs & Saltbreakers

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Genre: Indie, Pop

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Band Bio: On her third Nonesuch release, Saltbreakers, singer-songwriter Laura Veirs remains tantalized by the mysteries and marvels of the natural world, filling her work with images, both precise and poetic, of the ocean and the stars. But she digs even deeper this time into the vagaries of human nature, transforming the turbulence of her own life, as well as her concerns about the hair-trigger state of the world at large, into a collection of songs distinguished as much by their emotional urgency as by their often astonishing musical inventiveness.

"Lyrically I drew more from my personal life on this record than with anything I've done in the past," says Veirs. She aims to convey the feeling, if not the specific circumstances, of an intense period in her personal life: the end of a long-term relationship, and the unexpected start of a new one, coupled with a move from Seattle to Portland. She recalls this recent time as "a real emotional pendulum. I was swinging from joy to despair and back again. I was bouncing off the walls." She channeled her restless energy into writing material that mirrors those dramatically swinging moods; it shifts from brooding to euphoric to the hauntingly contemplative.

"I needed to say something truthful," admits Veirs. "I wasn't afraid to look at my dark side." And she doesn't waste any time doing that, opening Saltbreakers with the lines, "Sorry I was cruel/I was protecting myself/Drifting along with my swords out flying/Tattering my own sails/then I tattered yours too."

"It was nice to be direct," she admits. "But I still like to leave the songs open enough so that listeners can create their own images, their own ideas. On my early records, I was much more direct. It was all narrative. Then I went into a lot more obscure and poetic place. Now I've created a nice balance between those things."

Veirs recorded the album in Seattle, with band-mate Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Bill Frisell) once again producing and mixing. Though she now calls her group Saltbreakers, it's actually comprised of her longtime compatriots, formerly known as the Tortured Souls -- guitarist/bassist Karl Blau, keyboardist Steve Moore and drummer Martine. The name change was a practical decision: "I didn't want to talk about that Tortured Souls thing anymore. It just got old," Veirs, who also plays guitar, explains with a laugh, remembering lots of bad jokes about the moniker.

Over the last three years, the band has traveled the world in support of Veirs' previous Nonesuch albums, Carbon Glacier (2004) and Year of Meteors (2005), assiduously cultivating an international fan base. Veirs continues to praise the musicians' strong interrelationship: "The band has gotten really close. We've become like a real family. It's felt like that for a long time, but it's even more so now. Before we made this record, I demo-ed the tracks at home using Garageband. Then we went on a short west coast tour and played the new material. One of the big pay-offs of the way we work was then being able to go into the studio and just play the songs."

By: Laura Veirs

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