Laura Veirs Saltbreakers

Wordy popsmith Laura Veirs has composed a dizzying record with Saltbreakers, a personal affair propelled by intricate guitars and glitch-y electronica amongst more traditional folk and rock sounds. Documenting a transitional period in Veirs’ life, with relationships ending and beginning, plus a move from Seattle to Portland, the album leans heavily on interesting oceanic and geographic metaphors. The title track is certainly the shiniest, happiest song here and its overt poppiness is uncharacteristic for Veirs. It’s almost as unusual as "To the Country,” which was recorded in the Tennessee cabin studio once owned by Johnny and June Carter Cash. Featuring guitarist Bill Frisell and the Cedar Hill Choir, the song owes much to the influence of Sufjan Stevens but is light and airy rather than big and lush. The dark, soaring melodies of "Pink Light” seem more familiar. Inspired by Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness, "Don’t Lose Yourself” is the kind of light dance pop Stephen Merrittt might conceive of for the 6ths, while the rollicking "Phantom Mountain” sounds like vintage Sonic Youth. Firmly at the centre of this eclectic record, Veirs’ commanding presence unifies an interestingly scattered album. (Nonesuch)