Posted August 12, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Laura Veirs Pays Tribute to the Late Richard Swift

Laura Veirs
Laura Veirs

Produced by Tucker Martine and recorded in the summer and fall of 2019 in Portland, OR, My Echo, the forthcoming album from singer-songwriter Laura Veirs, includes appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward and others. The album drops on Oct. 23.

My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did album,’” says Veirs in a statement. “My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a Secret Poetry Group that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years, but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.”

In this new batch of songs, Veirs says she imagines escaping from some sort of prison or cage.  

“Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs,” she says. “In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found.”

It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.

Although these songs were written before quarantine, they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently.  “You will find me staring at the walls (‘Turquoise Walls’),” says Veirs. “You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (“Memaloose Island”). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (“Vapor Trails” and “All the Things”). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (“Freedom Feeling”). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (“Another Space and Time”).”

The late Richard Swift inspired the album’s first single, the brittle pop number “Burn Too Bright.”

“I wrote about a million versions of this song before landing on this version at the end of the recording session for My Echo,” says Veirs. “I think I actually wrote 14 versions and this final one made the cut.) Sometimes a song pours out fully finished and sometimes I need to wrack my brain and try many different approaches until it feels right. This one messed with me for a long time and I almost gave up on it — but I’m glad I persevered because this is one of my favorite tracks on the new album. 

Veirs didn’t know Swift personally, but he was a close friend to many in my community and she says she admired his artistry a lot.

“His death got me thinking about people who seem to ‘burn too bright’ for this world,” she says. “The song is dedicated to the many bright, artistic and heroic souls who have sadly left this plane too soon.”

In the music video, Veirs constructs a mural with sidewalk chalk. It was shot by Lance Bangs with assistance from Twixx Williams right before lockdown.

“It was drawn be me, my two sons Oz (7) and Tennessee (10) and our babysitter Lori VanRavenhorst over the course of 8 hours in a church parking lot in NE Portland,” says Veirs. “We did a lot of thinking and planning and measuring to get it right. Much of the video was shot from the ground; I love how the entire piece is revealed in the final drone shot. It was fun to see people stop and admire the chalk art as we were making it and after we were finished many neighbors gathered to admire it. The next day rains came washed the chalk away.”

The video is consistent with the new album’s themes.

“Much of my new album is about disintegration, death and the ephemeral nature of things, so the making — and nature’s taking away — of this giant chalk drawing fits well into the album’s overall concept.”


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].