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Laura Veirs @the Echo, 5/6/2008

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Laura Veirs is one of a great many thoughtful singer/songwriters working today, but she has distinguished herself with a crystalline, albeit nasally singing voice and light, ethereal melodies. Her albums, the most recent being 2007's Saltbreakers, offer up songs rich in natural imagery all wrapped up in a swirly, elegant production. Unfortunately, stripped of instrumentation, the songs reveal their irksome qualities.

Playing a solo acoustic set at the Echo, Veirs sang beautifully and proved herself a good guitarist, but the performance pointed out the fact that Veirs's lyrics are on the cumbersome, coffeehouse poetry side. A line like "souls lost into the ether of death" from "Ether Sings" does not slide from the tongue unnoticed. It practically plops down on the stage. There was a balance lost in Veirs's performance between the lightness of her melodies and the heaviness of her lyrics. On this evening, heaviness won out. Veirs also attempted to loop vocals and guitar while playing, but more often than not it didn't work. She's no Andrew Bird when it comes to looping.

Yet the evening was not without its moments. She shined during "Nightingale" and played a couple of songs from a new EP of old-timey covers.

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Veirs is an engaging presence on stage, but a little accompaniment certainly would have helped. What didn't help was having to follow the dynamic Liam Finn, who switched between guitars and drums, battering the latter with such ferocity that you can't help but be captivated by his abandon. He was too tough an act to follow.

Photo by Raul Borja/LAist