The Lookout (album)

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The Lookout
A black-and-white photo of Veirs' face
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 13, 2018 (2018-04-13)
Recorded2017
StudioFlora Recording and Playback, Portland, Oregon, United States
GenreIndie folk[1]
Length38:30
Label
ProducerTucker Martine
Laura Veirs chronology
case/lang/veirs
(2016)
The Lookout
(2018)

The Lookout is a studio album by American folk musician Laura Veirs, released on Raven Marching Band Records on April 13, 2018 to positive critical reception. Veirs recorded the work around her collaboration case/lang/veirs and continued a streak of working with her husband Tucker Martine as producer.

Recording and release[edit]

The music card might say, 'write in 5/4'; the lyric card might be 'use the first line of a poem' and the mood might be 'sad' or whatever. I was tricking myself into feeling surprised and forcing myself to try something new. There were aspects of it that were super annoying (because you had to do what the cards told you to), but it forced me to be disciplined and do the work.[2]

While touring and recording with case/lang/veirs, Veirs spent a year writing songs for the album, totaling 117 but only recording 14 that made up the final 12-song playlist for The Lookout.[2] Her writing process involved a structured approach of four hour days four days a week, alongside a stochastic approach that involve using prompts for a song's mood, lyrical theme, and musical theme.[2] Leading up to the release of the album, Veirs posted several of these cards onto her social media accounts[3] and created a music video for "Everybody Needs You", released on January 30, 2018.[4] Digital streaming for "Watch Fire"[5] and a music video for "Lightning Rod"[6] preceded the album. She promoted the release with a short tour of Europe and North America.[7]

Veirs' lyrical content is written in response to personal anxieties and insecurities[3][8] as well as the political climate after the 2016 United States presidential election[4] and the album is summed up with "Zozobra" as a hopeful song to provide solace to listeners.[3] Although these themes were not deliberate, the title The Lookout came from the need that emerged for all of us to take care of one another in trying times.[9] The song is also an ode to honor her husband Tucker Martine.[10] Motherhood inspired her writing and her children perform vocals on one song.[11]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Album of the Year79/100[13]
AnyDecentMusic?7.6/10[12]
Metacritic82/100[14]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
American Songwriter4/5[15]
Drowned in Sound7/10[16]
Exclaim!8/10[17]
The Guardian4/5 stars[18]
The Independent4/5 stars[19]
The Line of Best Fit7.5/10[20]
musicOMH4/5 stars[21]
NME4/5 stars[22]
Paste7.4/10[23]

The Lookout was met with positive reviews from critics noted at review aggregator Metacritic. This release received a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 18 reviews.[14] At Album of the Year, the editorial characterized critical consensus as a 79 out of 100 with 17 reviewers[13] and AnyDecentMusic? rated the album 7.6 out of 10.[12]

The editorial staff of AllMusic named this release among the best of 2018 and awarded it four out of five stars, with reviewer James Christopher Monger calling it "a sonically breezy yet lyrically bold amalgam of imagery-rich Pacific Northwest Americana, reverb-laden indie pop, and intimate electronics-tinged folk" that is "her most compelling set of material to date".[1] Stephen Thompson of NPR's First Listen called the performances on the album characterized by "uncommon warmth and grace, in songs that shimmer softly without sacrificing directness or power".[24] Pablo Gorondi of the Associated Press summed up a positive review writing, "The excellent musicianship... expands the guitar/piano foundations to ideal degrees of sound, just as Veirs' details of scandal-free intimacy result in an album that’s exhaustively gratifying."[25] For American Songwriter, Hal Horowitz's four-out-of-five star review praises Veir's vocals and her varied songwriting.[15] Eugenie Johnson of Drowned in Sound gave the album seven out of 10, with a review that also points out Veirs' songwriting, with the ability to mix broad and political themes with personal experience.[16] Sarah Greene of Exclaim! considers the album an artistic success, summing up her review: "Like the campfires people gather around throughout the record, The Lookout is meant to offer comfort; which it does".[17]

Phil Mongredien of The Guardian gave the album four out of five stars, calling it her "most satisfying [album] yet".[18] Ilana Kaplan gave the same rating in The Independent and emphasized Veir's lyrical tenderness.[19] In musicOMH, Stephanie Flooks also gave the release four stars of five, summing up that The Outlook is what Veirs does best: "Instantly recognisable and comforting, she opens her personal world up as safe haven in these strange and noisy times, whilst still keeping you at arm's length, listening for secrets."[21] A fourth British music publication that gave the album four out of five stars was NME, with reviewer Thea de Galleir calling it an "optimistic manifesto" with the songwriting "ability to tell stories without being blasé or obvious is what’s given her a long career in a fluctuating music world".[22]

In Paste, Eric R. Danton gave the album 7.4 out of 10, with a review that pans some musical elements and the song "Canyon" but calls these criticisms "quibbles" among strong and varied songwriting.[23] Charles Donovan of PopMatters also emphasized Veirs' solid songwriting across this album as well as her career, challenging listeners to pay close attention: "the danger is that Veirs' work, if experienced as wallpaper music, will come across as merely pleasant when it's really so much more".[26] In Record Collector, Kyle Lonsdale agrees with the consistent quality of Veirs' recordings, giving The Lookout four out of five stars.[27] Writing for The Straits Times, another four out of five comes from Yeow Kai Chai who says that Veirs is "in a zone of her own" and "one of America's best-kept secrets" for her songwriting as well as her vocal delivery.[28] Jon Putnam of The Line of Best Fit gave this release 7.5 out of 10, writing that "sturdy and insightful songs and its musical sparseness is surely designed in part to accentuate Veirs’ consummate songwriting".[20]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Laura Veirs, except where noted.

  1. "Margaret Sands" – 2:57
  2. "Everybody Needs You" – 2:54
  3. "Seven Falls" – 4:04
  4. "Mountains of the Moon" (Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter) – 4:16
  5. "Watch Fire" – 2:36
  6. "Heavy Petals" – 2:39
  7. "The Lookout" – 2:04
  8. "The Meadow" – 2:42
  9. "The Canyon" – 3:42
  10. "Lightning Rod" – 3:20
  11. "When It Grows Darkest" – 4:31
  12. "Zozobra" – 2:45

Personnel[edit]

  • Laura Veirs – acoustic and electric guitar, harmony and lead vocals, piano on "The Meadow", photography

Sales charts[edit]

The Lookout had only modest sales chart success, spending one week on American and Belgian charts.[29][30][31]

Chart performance for The Lookout
Chart (2018) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[29] 124
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[30] 132
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[31] 34

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Lookout – Laura Veirs". AllMusic. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Greene, Sarah (April 23, 2018). "Laura Veirs Took a Year to Unpack Her Process and Surprised Herself on The Lookout". Exclaim!. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Schlanger, Talia (April 13, 2018). "Laura Veirs On World Cafe". World Cafe. NPR. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen (January 30, 2018). "Laura Veirs Announces New Album, Shares 'Everybody Needs You' Video". All Songs Considered. NPR. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  5. ^ Claymore, Gabriela Tully (February 27, 2018). "Laura Veirs – 'Watch Fire' (Feat. Sufjan Stevens)". Stereogum. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Israelsohn, Sophie (February 27, 2018). "Laura Veirs – 'Lightning Rod' Video". Stereogum. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  7. ^ Vorel, Jim (January 30, 2018). "Laura Veirs Unveils Tenth Studio Album, The Lookout". Paste. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  8. ^ "Top Picks: Laura Veirs' The Lookout, the podcast Circle Round, and More Top Picks". The Christian Science Monitor. May 4, 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  9. ^ Baer, April; Klimenko, Nadya (March 23, 2018). "Laura Veirs, from Musician to Podcaster to Author and Back". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  10. ^ Baer, April (April 4, 2018). "In 'The Lookout', Laura Veirs Sings an Ode to Stable Love". NPR. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  11. ^ Simon, Scott (April 21, 2018). "Laura Veirs' 'The Lookout' Is a Soundtrack for Turbulent Times". Weekend Edition. NPR. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "The Lookout by Laura Veirs". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Laura Veirs – The Lookout – Reviews". Album of the Year. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  14. ^ a b "The Lookout by Laura Veirs". Metacritic. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Horowitz, Hal (April 12, 2018). "Laura Veirs: The Lookout". American Songwriter. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Johnson, Eugenie (April 13, 2018). "Album Review: Laura Veirs – The Lookout". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Greene, Sarah (April 11, 2018). "Laura Veirs The Lookout". Exclaim!. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Mongredein, Phil (April 15, 2018). "Laura Veirs: The Lookout Review – Deeply Moving and Satisfying". The Guardian. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Kaplan, Ilana (April 11, 2018). "Album Reviews: Cardi B, John Prine, Tinashe, Laura Veirs, Say Sue Me, Josh T Perason". The Independent. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Putnam, Jon (April 9, 2018). "The Lookout by Laura Veirs". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  21. ^ a b Flooks, Stephanie (April 13, 2018). "Laura Veirs – The Lookout". musicOMH. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Gallier, Thea de (April 12, 2018). "Laura Veirs – The Lookout Album Review". NME. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Danton, Eric R. (April 13, 2018). "Laura Veirs: The Lookout Review". Paste. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  24. ^ Thompson, Stephen (April 5, 2018). "Laura Veirs' The Lookout Offers a Buffer to a Chaotic World". NPR. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  25. ^ Gorondi, Pablo (April 16, 2018). "Review: Laura Veirs Makes The Lookout Intimate, Gratifying". Associated Press. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  26. ^ Donovan, Charles (April 9, 2018). "Laura Veirs Creates a Rich, Luxurious Sound on The Lookout". PopMatters. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  27. ^ Flooks, Stephanie (April 2018). "Laura Veirs – The Lookout". Record Collector (478).
  28. ^ Yeow, Kai Chai (April 19, 2018). "Laura Veirs' Wondrous Voice Weaves Through Existential Pursuits". The Straits Times. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  29. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Laura Veirs – The Lookout" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  30. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Laura Veirs – The Lookout" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Laura Veirs The Lookout Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 13, 2020.

External links[edit]