The Austin Chronicle

Free Week Live Shots Part 2

Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, January 18, 2013, Music

Shakey Graves

The Parish, Jan. 9

As the Parish stage lights silhouette Shakey Graves, his pose comes into relief: legs bent, stance fixed, large-bodied guitar slung high on his rail-thin frame with the neck angled slightly toward the heavens. On his head, a crisply bent cowboy hat. He looks a little like Townes Van Zandt and a lot like Woody from Toy Story. The heels of his leather shoes rest on drum pedals that beat on a suitcase outfitted with a drumhead and a tambourine. His black-and-tan archtop guitar rings out with a high gain matching his trebly howl. Not simply a young, pretty face, Graves fingerpicks minor chords in jumpy patterns, with notable intensity and interesting note selection. Over the last year, the Austin native's risen out of the singer-songwriter scrap heap and amassed a big enough fan base to merit a weekly residency at the Parish, which he's filled to near capacity on the first two Wednesdays in January. Sadly, the local troubadour's performance for Free Week comes off ... shakey. After connecting with a sinuous version of "Unlucky Skin," he does little to capitalize on the room's ample energy, offering awkward banter and unexceptional delivery instead. Perhaps it's the early set tequila shot making his guitar playing unfocused and his raspy, rambling vocals delivered with more obligation than fervor. Even his signature move of following a quiet passage with a drawn out "awhoooo" and snapping back into a stomp-n-shake drumbeat can't enliven the capacity crowd. Lucky for Shakey Graves, there's always next week.

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