Laura Veirs, From Musician To Podcaster To Author And Back

By April Baer (OPB) and Nadya Klimenko (OPB)
Portland, Ore. March 24, 2018 5:03 a.m.
Musician, podcaster and author Laura Veirs.

Musician, podcaster and author Laura Veirs.

David Belisle / Courtesy of Laura Veirs

Portland-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs is releasing her 10th solo album, "The Lookout," on April 18. Veirs has released one music video per month leading up to the record’s release.

“I didn’t set out with a theme,” Veirs explained. “But [looking out] was the theme that emerged.”


"The Lookout" calls on us to look out for one another and find our voices in difficult times.

“We matter," she said. "Our voices matter. We need to not get lost in fear, in depression, in cynicism — in all the feelings that are coming up around our current world.”

Part introspection, part community rallying cry, the album resonates with an energetic warmth. Veirs’ dreamy melodies, buffered by the seamless mixing of her producer-husband, Grammy-nominated Tucker Martine, help the album linger in one’s ears long after it’s over.

Veirs admits that the album’s title track, “The Lookout,” almost didn’t make the cut. She calls it “too pop-like” for her own taste. But then again, neither did 80 to 90 other songs, whose melodies, lyrics and arrangements Veirs painstakingly wrote and rewrote. “The Lookout” evolved to a point where Veirs realized the track had to stay — for the sake of the album, the themes it represented. Beyond that, she said, “I like honoring Tucker. I don’t always write songs about him.”

Veirs considers working with her husband a privilege, but they only record together once every two or three years. Over the past few years, Veirs has mothered two sons and worked full-time on her songwriting, dedicating a room in their house to writing, dissecting and perfecting over a hundred songs.

With this record, Veirs said she can hear herself making leaps forward in her vocal technique. That progress, she said, came in no small part because of her 2016 collaboration with Neko Case and k.d. lang on case/lang/veirs. Now, after 25 years, Veirs feels she has finally found a level of comfort with her own voice.

"The Lookout" caps a busy winter for Veirs. In January, she launched a podcast called "Midnight Lightning" where she interviews fellow working mother-musicians. She also published a children's book about folk music heroine, Elizabeth Cotten. What's next for Veirs? After six months off from songwriting, she's ready to get back to the music.