Songs of love and the darker side: cheers for Veirs

Brighton Komedia: Laura Veirs + Led To Sea

It's still a mystery why an artist of the calibre of Laura Veirs isn't better known. The singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon has strung together a winning bunch of albums over the last 14 years , and has built up a loyal fanbase for her plangent, clear voice and thoughtful, light/dark Americana tunes.

This gig at the Komedia was packed but not quite sold out. It deserved to be: there is a power and freedom about Veirs' music that has to be experienced live, particularly with her self-deprecating wit and between song banter on regular display.

The evening got off to a great and imaginative start with Led To Sea, aka violist and violinist/singer Alex Guy, mesmerizing an appreciative crowd with her unusual mix of strong vocals with looped phrases and refrains, layering pieces that reeled you in and refused to let go.

The crowd even forgave her thinking she was playing Bristol.

She appeared after the break as part of Veirs' band, supplying harmony vocals, viola and keyboard, along with Karl Blau (guitar and bass) and Veirs' husband and producer Tucker Martine on drums. Veirs herself switched from acoustic to electric guitar halfway through, and the set cracked up a notch from there, as the rockier songs from new album Warp and Weft got a run-through.

Amazingly, Veirs has her six-month old baby Oz on tour and a few plaintive cries were heard during Alex Guy's support set. And motherhood is a significant thread in the songs, contrasting the love and nurturing of parenthood with darker undercurrents of fear and menace, seen in songs like the anti-gun America, and Motherless Children.

Opener The Sun To Thank lifted spirits and the moving Can I Call You Mine? was superb, along with favourite Wandering Kind. Shapeshifter looked lyrically at the murmuration of birds and No More Looking Back was a reminder that the best is yet to come.

Top, top quality. Seek her music out you'll be glad you did. Russ Bravo

Warp and Weft is out on Bella Union and you can catch excerpts at www.lauraveirs.com.

Gig photo above left: Sue Tyhurst

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