"Let's start stripping it down," declares Graham Weber at the outset of Faded Photos on "YNRN." The local songwriter's fifth effort counters his recent roots-rock work with So Long, Problems, returning him to the gripping lyrical detail of 2011's Women and 2008's Door to the Morning as he continues to mature as an exceptional songwriter. Being There-era Wilco provides the aesthetic touchstone here, Weber's weary, scratched drawl ripping the vulnerability, pain, and beauty of pre-SSRI Tweedy. Peter Stopschinski's sparse string arrangements and a light hand from producer Randy Reynolds lift the swaying regret of "Balloons" and "Boston," while "Ballad of the 04 Lounge" paints a moving, heartbroken scene. Dark gypsy touches to "Talia" and up-tempo punch on "Time" ease the weight somewhat, and the layered vocals of piano closer "Jason" cut a softer, if comparably broken, pop bent. Weber remains a master of evocative metaphor unraveling in the uneasy rift of his whiskey-burnt tenor.
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