In this country, we're facing a population explosion that's verging on a crisis of catastrophic proportions. An overabundance that threatens to rip apart the very fabric of civilization as we know it! I speak, of course, of musicians whose breathless bios utter the phrase "Austin-based Americana singer-songwriter." But wait! Out of the pack of mindless clones name-checking Townes Van Zandt comes Graham Weber, whose talents both in front of the blank page and on the stage are actually real. His sophomore CD, Beggar's Blues, shows him as a first-rate songwriter, with equal parts Freewheelin'-era Dylan-esque dense wordplay and Lyle Lovett-esque sonic portraits of desperate lovers, wistful drunks and dead friends. Alternatively witty and bouncy ("Love and Money," "Stars and Circles") and deep ("Cincinnati," "Avenue A"), this 25-year-old Austinite (via Kent, Ohio) is more than a cut above the rest of the souls crowding the Cactus Cafe's open-mike nights. Which isn't surprising when you find his mentor is the similarly gifted Slaid Cleaves. With Weber's rich voice and deft acoustic strumming, along with a rotating lineup of backup musicians, Beggar's Blues is a pleasant surprise that also repays concentration and repeated listening. A true talent on the ascent.
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