Beaver Nelson Little Brother (Black Dog)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Sept. 29, 2000
Little Brother (Black Dog)If there's any justice, and it goes without saying there rarely is in the music business, Beaver Nelson will be the next Austin artist to break big. His second full-length, Little Brother, is so good it often recalls Lucinda Williams' best work. Nelson takes a variety of musical styles, from high-stepping honky-tonk and down 'n'dirty swamp blues to steamy ballads and gritty roots-rock, and wraps them in a package that's appealing beyond the simple, poignant lyrics. With bare-bones backing from locals Scrappy Jud Newcomb, George Reiff, and Mark Patterson, Nelson's intriguing stories, filled with stark imagery, are remarkably potent."Don't Bend, Just Break" is a concise portrayal of alienation, as he sings over languidly strummed guitar: "Please don't sing to me, I've heard your songs before. And I know how quiet it gets in here, when you end the show." Some color is added by the modest use of horns, especially effective on the bluesy "My Bones Will Be the Picture Frame." The only real clunker is the funkified "Fever Kept Me Up All Night," which ends up sounding like a Poi Dog Pondering outtake. Still, songs like "Fallen Down," "Scattered," "Remnant," and "Playing for Keeps" are sonically diverse and lyrically and melodically solid, making Little Brother one of the best Austin recordings of 2000.