Laura Veirs is set to release The Lookout, her tenth solo full-length album, on April 13th via Bella Union. After presenting lead single, “Everybody Needs You,” “a bright and expansive arrangement that echoes, purrs and flutters invitingly”, the singer-songwriter now shares “Watch Fire,” featuring Sufjan Stevens. Read the artist’s statement below, as told to Pitchfork.
“I’m not sure if you’ve heard wolves howling in the wild but there’s no mistaking their sound. It’s nothing like the howling of wind; it’s much more eerie and sinister. “Watch Fire” is about protecting the vulnerable among us and how I feel vulnerable, too, in this political climate. You can hear that in the lyric ‘underneath this dome of red / white dog circling overhead.”
“It was an honor to have Sufjan sing on this track as I admire him a lot. I heard his voice on this song when I wrote it. We’ve been friends for a long time and he’s given me quite a few artistic pep talks over the years. I sang on his Carrie and Lowell sessions so it’s nice to have him on my record this time around.” Listen now below…
Prolific songwriter for nearly twenty years, Laura Veirs proves the depth of her musical skill on her tenth solo album, The Lookout, released 13th April via Bella Union. Here is a batch of inimitable, churning, exquisite folk-pop songs; a concept album about the fragility of precious things. Produced by Grammy-nominated Tucker Martine, Veirs’ longtime collaborator, The Lookout is a soundtrack for turbulent times, full of allusions to protectors: the camper stoking a watch fire, a mother tending her children, a sailor in a crows nest and a lightning rod channelling energy.
“The Lookout is about the need to pay attention to the fleeting beauty of life and to not be complacent; it’s about the importance of looking out for each other,” says Veirs. “I’m addressing what’s happening around me with the chaos of post-election America, the racial divides in our country, and a personal reckoning with the realities of midlife: I have friends who’ve died; I struggle with how to balance life as an artist with parenting young children.”
Written and produced on the heels of Veirs’ acclaimed album with Neko Case and k.d. Lang (case/lang/veirs), The Lookout integrates the fluency of collaboration with Veirs’ notorious work ethic. The twelve songs on the album are the result of a years’ worth of daily writing in her attic studio in Portland, Oregon.
“Twenty years ago when I was just starting out with my punk band, it never occurred to me to write five versions of a song,” says Veirs. “I’ve learned to see how malleable lyrics and melodies can be. I have more tools as a musician so I write many versions of songs until I find the right fit.” Such range is demonstrated on the operatic vocals of “The Meadow” and the intricate finger picking on “Watch Fire.” “The Lookout,” the album’s title track, is an ecstatic anthem to trusted relationships.
The Lookout draws on the talents of a time-tested crew of musicians: Karl Blau, Steve Moore, Eli Moore, Eyvind Kang and Martine. Says Veirs, “These guys are a good hang, ego-free and wonderful players who just want to serve the songs.”Sufjan Stevens and Jim James provide guest vocals.
For Martine, who fell, almost two decades ago, for Veirs’ unique sound after listening to a tape cassette she’d sent him in the mail, this album reflects a bar that keeps getting raised. Both familiar and strange, The Lookout gets better with repeated listens, warming to the skin like a cherished saddlebag, critical for the journey ahead.