Laura Veirs – Phone Orphans

The prolific Portland songwriter mines eight years' worth of voice memos for this sparse collection of sketches

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 02 Nov 2023
  • Laura Veirs – Phone Orphans
Album title: Phone Orphans
Artist: Laura Veirs
Label: Raven Marching Band Records
Release date: 3 Nov

There is perhaps something that seems counterintuitive about the idea of Laura Veirs, somebody who has spent 20 years making the most gorgeously woven, meticulously crafted indie-folk, putting out an album of demos plucked from her voice memos; as the title suggests, Phone Orphans came about when she sorted through eight years’ worth of rough ideas, for which there were more than 900, recorded to her phone.

The finished 14-track collection has rounded off some of the ideas but remains sparse; Up Is a Nice Place to Be is entirely a cappella, for instance, whilst a number of instrumentals also make the cut, with the standout among them being the woozy Magnolia Sphere. Still, as disarming as it is to hear Veirs’ work short of the lush soundscapes she’s known for, Phone Orphans provides an intriguing glimpse into the nuts and bolts of her artistry, and the likes of Rocks of Time and Smoke Song sound as if they were always meant to be this bare, her vocals and acoustic guitar unadorned. This is probably one for Veirs purists, but such is the standard of her songwriting that even among these sketches, there’s some real gems to be found.

Listen to: Rocks of Time, Smoke Song, Magnolia Sphere