by: Beaver Nelson

After two albums that favored rough-and-tumble roots rock, Beaver Nelson puts the emphasis on his singer/songwriter side for Undisturbed. The Austin-based musician has always demonstrated a keen ability to write emotionally weighty songs -- "Little Brother Blues," from his previous album, Little Brother, being an excellent example -- but he seems to have calmed down his rambunctious spirit some on this record. Opting for a generally quieter sound, Nelson reveals himself to be in a contemplative, questioning mood, as songs like "Did You Know?," "Where Are You?," and "What Is That to Me?" all bear out. This isn't to say that he has given up on doing raucous bar rockers. "Eleven Again," his ode to carefree youth, is a hell-raisin' tune, but it's more of the exception on this album than the rule. Another punchy rocker, however, is anything but adolescent; "God's Tears" finds Nelson proclaiming: "I feel a fire right between my ears/Science is a liar and those are God's tears." Although Nelson's writing is more introspective, he never comes off sounding overwrought. His rough, raspy vocals add the right mix of earnestness and wariness to his tunes. With the aid of his longtime guitarist/producer Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Nelson frames his songs in warm arrangements that favor acoustic guitars, pianos, and organs. Famed Faces keyboardist and current Austin resident Ian MacLagan contributes his Wurlitzer handiwork on several numbers. Undisturbed feels like a transitory piece, as Nelson sheds his twenty-something scruffiness for a more adult musical persona, and the disc offers an intriguing look into a rapidly maturing artist. ~ Michael Berick

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