Label: Bella Union Release date: 11/01/2010 Website: ‘July Flame’ is the seventh studio album from Colorado’s Laura Veirs,. Having gone through a creative lull, some of this record was written in her own barn while she tried out new sounds and tunings on her guitar. However, there are still many string arrangements and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James shows up to help out on a few songs. Fans will be pleased that Veirs’ trademark observational lyrics still remain as potent as ever. An American singer-songwriter in the traditional sense, the opener ‘I Can See Your Tracks’ is a pleasant if rather subtle intro with the refrain of “halfway down to New Orleans” setting the autobiographical tone. As the album goes on the songs become harder hitting with slide guitar, violins and experimental echo vocal effects all featuring yet never outstaying their welcome. Not only are the vocals sumptuous and gorgeous, but the lyrics are also vivid and thought-provoking – on ‘Where Are You Driving’ Veirs sings about “you in suspended animation”, and instantly you are transported directly in to her concepts and values. A feeling of tension simmers throughout the album, although this is broken up by the more relaxed atmosphere of ‘Life Is Good Blues’ - finger-picked guitars and decoded backing vocals soundtrack a night in the company of a good band. Veirs mentions how she “danced away the hour” and the song covers how music can make life good. Wise words. An atmospheric piece that, although slightly more upbeat than the rest, still fits the album’s tone perfectly. Another feature of the album is the haunting introductions, the piano on ‘Little Deschutes’ is especially poignant but soon this track breaks down in to a crescendo of noise, and it works perfectly. Followed up by the festival sound of ‘Summer Is The Champion’, these two songs showcase Veirs’ flexible approach with the latter’s catchy piano and brass bringing to mind hot summers and fun days. It’s evident constantly touring has really helped her sound. The latter stages of the album begin to lose momentum and songs begin to drift from one to another rather uninspiringly. That is until you get to ‘Carol Kaye’, a loving tribute to a producer that is as heartwarming and touching as they come, you can hear every ounce of emotion in Veirs’ voice as she talks about her associate’s death. It’s a hard listen but worthwhile. ‘Make Something Good’ is an apt closing theme to the album as it is a piano ballad that is delicate yet unrestrained. Veirs is a fan of folk, pop, classical and country music and on this album she has combined all to create something quite subtle, accomplished and inspiring. Rating 7/10 What say you on this? Sound off in our Fourum!