For July Flame, Laura Veirs reverts to the simpler mode of her earlier records after the folk-jazz band arrangements of Year of Meteors and Saltbreakers, the producer Tucker Martine keeping extraneous instrumental detail to a minimum – just the occasional textural tint of organ, horns or strings – in order to focus more closely on her fingerstyle guitar technique.
That's not the only change here: instead of the fascination with water, which has coursed through all her albums since the sublime Carbon Glacier, it's the sun that dominates July Flame, named for a variety of peach and its "unslakeable thirst in the backyard". Tracks such as "Sun Is King" and "Summer Is the Champion" speak poetically of that season's emotional thaw ("Honey wax melted down, make your heart molten somehow, turn the fields of stone to magma", etc), while her affinity for the natural world is similarly gorged in images like "pollinators flex their wings and, taking to the air, spin their amandine webs across the swales and prairies". Elsewhere, there are songs about silos, driving and a tribute to legendary session bassist Carol Kaye, but the album's intent is best summarised in "Make Something Good", where Veirs expresses her desire to make something strong, like "an organ pipe in a cathedral that stays in tune through a thousand blooms".
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