Humidity. A fact of life that Seattlites and inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest know too well. We live and breathe the marine layer, the way it lifts and falls, how it rises and fades. It settles overnight and then lifts by mid-morning. It taunts us, and our hair. And can provide some of us with enough talent with a unique view of the world — and songwriting inspiration.
Such is the case for long-time Pacific Northwest resident and acclaimed singer-songwriter, Laura Veirs, who brought her jazz-influenced alt-country act to the Fremont Abbey on Saturday, December 12th. Playing two nights of Seattle shows, the Portland musician played to a packed Abbey and wove a tapestry of stories influenced by her life in the Northwest and beyond. Playing literally to her roots with family and friends making up the audience and special guests including longtime violinist.
Back to the humidity. Veirs presents songs with an air of psychedelica and a down-home Americana that feel weighted, but not heavy. The rhythms and melodies permeate, but they don’t fester. Her songs bring meaning to metaphor. Lyrics are infused with deep longing and loss and hope. And the set list for her second night at the Abbey included a bevy of ballads and up-tempo numbers that spanned her vibrant discography.
As a longtime Veirs fan, I was more than pleased to hear a mix of songs from the whole catalog. Veirs has been recording albums since the early aughts, and her catalog includes releases from labels like the fabled Nonesuch and self-released recordings. Her collaborators are lauded indie talents like Neko Case, Karl Blau, and k.d. Lang. But it’s Veirs’ own experiences that fuel her passion for music, her passion for creating, and her passion for sharing her stories with those around her. Between songs, she shared her stories of creating, and finding inspiration, and her ability to create community and deliver a churchlike evening found a perfect setting at the Abbey, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house by the end of the night.
Veirs played the Abbey with a bright, full four-piece backing band, including a talented violinist and keyboardist, her multi-instrumentalist and rhythm guitarist, and jazz drummer that kept the band in sync.
Her set list included Saltbreakers A-sides, singles from her previously mentioned collaborative efforts, and a tender interlude of solo songs with a cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars, and the song that started this whole thread of humidity in the first place, “Lake Swimming.”
A song about swimming in Lake Washington.
It may have been dark and cold outside, but inside Laura Veirs brought that bright humidity to a head. The show was a break from the storm. The eye of a hurricane. The soundtrack was a driving mix of jazz and tender metaphors with vivid emotions. A heartfelt way to spend a Saturday night in December.