Laura Veirs today announces her thirteenth solo album Phone Orphans due out 3rd November via her own Raven Marching Band Records. The esteemed Portland, OR-based artist sorted through over 900 voice memos spanning 8 years on her phone to curate this 14-track collection, which she recorded herself in her living room. The simplicity of these raw and deeply intimate songs is their power. Phone Orphans also marks the first time in a quarter-century-long career that Veirs has selected and arranged all of her own songs on a record. Gossamer, poetic lead single “Rocks of Time”, released today, “was written about my beloved brother and devoted uncle Scott Veirs,” she explains. It’s a seesawing ode to a one-person support network who never fails; for the person in your world who always seems to be there, holding your newborn or your old burdens or whatever else it is you need to share.

Commenting on the album Veirs says: “It feels good, on my 50th birthday and after 30 years of writing songs, to bring these ‘Phone Orphans’ into the light. These songs have been hiding out on my phone, some of them for over eight years. They are about my family, my lovers and me. I recorded them alone in my living room into my voice memo app. I like their relaxed feel. These songs were mastered but we made no edits to the recordings. I hope you enjoy this intimate glimpse into my artistic process. All songs by me except “Up is a Nice Place to Be” by Rosalie Sorrels and “The Archers” with lyrics adapted from a poem by Federico García Lorca.”

Veirs will play a run of US and UK. tour dates this Autumn in support of Phone Orphans, alongside Karl Blau; see below for a full itinerary of dates.

Veirs lives now in a little century-old bungalow, tucked quietly off the street in her long-time home town of Portland, OR. She writes songs there in the living room, its old wooden floor offering a reverberant reply. Veirs used to write in the attic of the much larger foursquare-style home she shared in Portland with her musical partner and husband, at least until they split four years ago. Perhaps you remember the sound of that relationship cracking during 2020’s My Echo? Better still, perhaps you know Veirs’ stepwise sublimation of that process from 2022’s redemptive Found Light, an album about what comes after what once might have felt like the end. Her homespun songs have shared her story, intimate and elegant.

Those two very different domestic settings became the de facto studios for the playfully named Phone Orphans. Veirs would put her phone on the table, press ‘Record’ on its most basic app, and pick and sing inside the place she called home. She would sometimes try entirely new arrangements for the same words or vice versa, creating a web of alternates. When the song was good enough for Veirs, she would transcribe it into the stack of more than a dozen three-ring binders that now fill a kitchen shelf, immortalizing it for herself. To make Phone Orphans, Veirs listened back to the mass of songs that never left that shelf, steadily shaping these 35 minutes that alternately feel as light as a breeze and heavy as an incoming storm. The quick volume boost of mastering excepted, they are unaltered from their original state. But this collection is not merely an odds-and-sods assortment of outtakes and castoffs; these are merely first takes of songs that previous producers decided did not belong on Veirs’ past records. Now they hang together beautifully, an intricate portrait of a life captured in the sharp images and soft melodies that have become Veirs’ touchstones.

Her albums have long been open and candid affairs, singing listeners straight into her orbit even through moments of coded poetry. But Phone Orphans reveals an even deeper layer, eschewing the artifice of arrangement and studio production to say, bluntly, here is the thing. There is so much emotional terrain covered: stories of new lust within unrequited rock-star crushes (“Next One, Maybe”); tender, hushed lullabies for pandemic lovers (“If You Could Hold Someone”); odes to abiding family love (“Rocks of Time,” “Tree Climber”); tragedy, gratitude, imagination, loss, hope and dreams. By the time Phone Orphans ends, a miniature memoir has emerged, Veirs capturing the highs and woes of our shared existence, even when it feels isolating.

Since Veirs finished compiling Phone Orphans, she has not written a new song, not added anything to that rainbow of binders. And, frankly, she doesn’t know if she will. At the edge of 50, there are other interests to pursue, especially the painting that’s become such a crucial part of her artistic output in recent years. Who knows? In any case, Phone Orphans represents a certain closure with the past, of rifling through the things that others said weren’t good enough and replying to the contrary. It is a stunning album of so-called misfits, a deeply felt trove of treasures once relegated to trash.