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
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-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.