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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs isn't a new artist; she's put out five albums since 1999, and she regularly tours Europe. But she's still largely unknown in the US. Critic Tom Moon says the 31-year-old's latest CD, "Year of Meteors," could change that.

(Soundbite of "Fire Snakes")

Ms. LAURA VEIRS: (Singing) Mermaids shimmer in the waves. Wanted to share a word, of course, they only waved.

TOM MOON reporting:

Laura Veirs is not the kind of singer-songwriter who will sit down and tell you a story.

(Soundbite of music)

MOON: Sure, there are bits of stories hidden inside her dreamlike songs; you just have to piece them together for yourself. She'll throw a bunch of images at you: mermaids and fire snakes and mud-crusted altars.

(Soundbite of "Fire Snakes")

Ms. VEIRS: (Singing) Then I'll dress up your wounds, wash off the salt, freshen the blooms at your mud-crusted altar. I'll dress up your wounds, wash off the salt, freshen the blooms at your mud-crusted altar.

MOON: Laura Veirs spends a lot of time outdoors, and you can tell. Her songs use images of nature as metaphors. Her last album called "Carbon Glacier" had lots of ice in it. This one is warmer. The metaphors are more hopeful, less desperate. On a song called "Galaxies," she describes love as a kind of celestial epiphany.

(Soundbite of "Galaxies")

Ms. VEIRS: (Singing) When you sing, when you sing, stars fill up my eyes. Galaxies pour down my cheeks, galaxies. Galaxies flood the street, galaxies.

MOON: The songs are usually built around simple acoustic guitar patterns. Laura Veirs says that once she has a structure going, she and her producer, Tucker Martine, will add droning violas and other background sounds, sometimes bizarre ones, to make a kind of an ominous counterpoint.

(Soundbite of "Secret Someones")

Ms. VEIRS: (Singing) I'm climbing up the stairs. I'm circling the waves. The broken window paint, the broken windowpane. Oh, a smile would melt me to an asphalt strip, where all would travel, where all would tread and trip, where all the rolling rollers roll...

MOON: The textures are open atmospheric, and so different things pop out every time you hear the song. Laura Veirs leaves room for you to wander around, gets your imagination involved. You can go scavenging for deep thoughts on life if you want to, or you can just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

(Soundbite of "Rialto")

NORRIS: The CD is "Year of Meteors" by Laura Veirs. Our reviewer Tom Moon writes about music at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. VEIRS: (Singing) Bright colors drowning me out. I can still go there. Sun on water.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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