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Hang up! ‘Phone Orphans’ is on the line

Made entirely on the voice memos app
Photo Credit: Laura Veirs

Thanks to her signature ethereal vocals and intricate guitar work, Laura Veirs has created a unique sound like no other. After making her debut in 1999, Veirs became a known artist in the folk/indie-pop and punk genres. Her latest studio album, Phone Orphans, features songs that showcase raw emotion and thought-provoking storytelling. 

To start, “Creatures of a Day” is a soft beginning to the album. It opens with a gentle acoustic melody on the guitar with vocals and lyrics layered in between like “from dawning times till now” and “I know the challenge is to live with open lids,” demonstrating the raw and unique sound Veirs is developing. The overall combination of her lyrics and instrumentation comes together to create an inviting start to the album. 

“If You Could Hold Someone” does not have the same appeal as the first song— at least at first. The instrumental of the guitar is too sharp at certain points and it throws off the flow of the song. I feel like this is in large part due to Veir’s punk background shining through. It also feels too repetitive, but of course with songs repetition is expected. But, having to hear the same lyric for the fifth time in a row made me realize just how mundane the song is.

 The third track “Rocks of Time” reaches the top three of the album for me. I enjoyed how the song started with lyrics and an upbeat melody. It was a good lead-in for the rest of the track. Singing lyrics, “down on the rocks of time” combined with the guitar backing her up, easily creates the best point in the song. Similar to the last track, certain points in the guitar were distracting, but As “Tree Climber” began, the two songs began to blend, the repetition in combination with the way the songs sounded similar made me wonder whether the album was everything I thought at first.

Track five “Up is a Nice Place To Be”, out of the rest of the album, is a perfect example that the album was recorded using voice memos. From her breaths in between lyrics, to the echo in her voice, the song was easily the most unique and true to the album. The song was entirely acapella, allowing the lyrics to take precedence. In my opinion, this allowed time to consume the song I was trying to hear. I was able to focus a lot more on the depth of the lyrics, “but you’re nowhere when you’re on your own ” showcasing how raw the song is. It felt a lot like a lullaby with her soothing voice, comparable to something a mom would sing her child to sleep. 

“The Archers” itself was great, with its melody and lyrics, along with the guitar made for an enjoyable song. However, at this point in the album, the songs began to feel repetitive again. It got harder and harder to listen to the album, track after track. Being that Veirs was more interested in sports in high school and seeing that she was the swim captain, I honestly thought she should have stuck to backstrokes. In comparison, being only a minute long and an instrumental, “Tiger Ocean” does a lot more for the album than other songs prior. It felt like a breathing point in the album. It sounded different than the other songs and being that until now I had never heard of Laura Veirs, it gave me a different perspective on her music.

“Beautiful Dreams” was as perfect as it could be to close out this album. The song felt like she was telling someone good night for the end of the album. “I wish you beautiful dreams,” is one of the lyrics that solidifies this for me, and prompted me to think of this song as a dedication to the people she cares about. In an interview, she stated that this album captures an intimate artistic process for her. Though, I think that some of these songs should’ve stayed intimate. 

It’s easy to see why Laura Veirs is a well-known artist for folk enthusiasts. Her unique sound and raw music are captivating and a fresh perspective on making music that other artists lack. Personally, Veirs is right up my alley in terms of artists, but at the same time there are songs and specific parts that I didn’t enjoy and I can see why others wouldn’t want to listen to her because of that. Overall though for a majority of my time listening to the album the critics were ignorable and didn’t hinder my opinion of her by the end of the album. In the end, there are a handful of songs that I will be adding to my playlists while the rest will go to voicemail.

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