BEAVER NELSON – SATURDAY, 9/17 @ 3:00PM
Thoughtful, philosophical singer/songwriter Beaver Nelson has long sought to locate
deeper truths, to shape order from the puzzles life puts forward, both past and
present. He explained to Rolling Stone: “I’m pretty obsessed with the notion of time,”
he says. “It’s the basic human problem. What time means and its effect on us and
the fact that you can’t own it. It’s here, then it’s gone—you screw up and you don’t
get it back.” On his new album Positive, Nelson continues to reflect in a collection of
songs written over the span of his career, brimming with intelligence, humor and his
trademark pop hooks. Produced by his longtime cohort, Scrappy Jud Newcomb
(Patty Griffin, Slaid Cleaves, Ian McLagan’s Bump Band) in Marfa and Austin, there
are new songs (“Are You Positive”, “It Ain’t Yours”) and some written as early as ’94
(“Willing and Able”) and ’95 (“Bad Movie”).
Hailed as a prodigy by Rolling Stone at the tender age of 19, Beaver has released 7
albums since then, but not before getting churned through the major label blender
first. By the age of 22 he had two failed record deals and had seen enough of that
world to back away. He fronted a rock band for years before returning to solo
performance and focusing on songwriting in the wake of the passing of his idol,
Townes Van Zandt.
Nelson began playing guitar at 14 and was introduced to Bob Dylan, the Rolling
Stones, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen by two of his camp counselors. He began
to write and record songs, assembling handmade cassettes to sell to friends. He
began exploring the Austin open mic scene during high school, driving up from his
home in Houston. The vibrant and ultra-supportive scene introduced him to Jimmy
La Fave, Jo Carol Pierce and others as well as Troy Campbell and Scrappy Jud
Newcomb, members of the great Austin rock band Loose Diamonds.
By the early 90s he was touring and beginning the frustrating major label period in
his life, with deals that fell through and a shelved album that did not sound “grunge”
enough for the A&R flacks. By the time he signed with Austin-based Freedom
Records and released his debut, he had emerged as one of “the most promising
writers of the entire decade,” according to AllMusic.com. His music has been feted in
Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, Mojo and No Depression, among many others.
Austin Based Singer/Songwriter Beaver Nelson
Announces New Album “Positive” Out August
“I’m pretty obsessed with the notion of time” Beaver Nelson
once told Rolling Stone magazine. Quite a bit of time has
passed since that conversation and during that period much
has happened. A lot of recordings, a family, a business and
many, many songs. Chances are if you know Beaver’s name,
you probably connect it with songwriting. He’s been writing
songs and releasing them for the last twenty five years. His latest album is Positive and if you are
one of those people who has heard Beaver’s name over the years and wondered why, this is
perhaps the collection of songs you should start with. It’s a summation without being nostalgic, it’s
stylistically varied without being forced and it’s as current as last week as well as having one foot in
those hazy and glorious days of the last millennium known as Austin’s roots rock scene.
On this new album Positive, Nelson continues the journey with a collection of songs written over
the span of his career, brimming with intelligence, humor and his trademark pop hooks. Produced
by his longtime cohort, Scrappy Jud Newcomb (Patty Griffin, Slaid Cleaves, Ian McLagan’s Bump
Band) in Marfa and Austin, there are new songs (“Are You Positive”, “It Ain’t Yours”) and some
written in those early days (“Willing and Able”) and (“Bad Movie”).
Scrappy and Beaver collaborated with longtime Nelson bandmates Matt Eskey and Mark
Patterson, but Nelson reports that production decisions and the like were 100% Newcomb’s.
“Scrappy produced my first 3 albums and co-produced the next three. On this album he was totally
in charge of interpreting my songs. He kept removing chords and creating more room sonically for
things like percussion and background vocals. I’m really proud of the way it turned out.” Other old
friends also pitched in, including producer/guitarist Rich Brotherton (Robert Earl Keen, David
Halley) who tracked additional music at his Ace Recording and bassist extraordinaire George Reiff
(Dixie Chicks, the Jayhawks, Joe Walsh) who also did some additional recording and masterfully
mixed the album.
Positive is a sparkling collection, showcasing Beaver’s literate and searching lyrics as well as his
unique melodic sensibilities. It opens with the chiming guitars and spare drums of “Well, Well,
Well”, a contemplation on his early years with his longtime wife, with Nelson singing “Can we go
back a step, where we used to be, I could use some help from history.” “One Tough Love” has an
almost hymnal quality, with beautiful back-up singers supporting his soaring tenor vocals. It also
shows Beaver’s love of the songwriting of people like Ron Sexsmith and Glenn Tillbrook. “Willing
and Able” is an up-tempo rocker that brings to mind artists like Tom Petty and the Kinks.