Exciting Opportunity

The backstory attached to Austin singer-songwriter BEAVER NELSON used to be his fruitless early-nineties run through the major-label wringer. But now that he’s released albums more or less consistently since 1998, the question is this: Why isn’t the world beating a path to Nelson’s door to record his songs? As evidenced by his latest effort, EXCITING OPPORTUNITY (Freedom), Nelson’s recordings are modest, craggy-voiced roots-rock affairs that don’t aspire to MTV stardom; it’s his songwriting that takes the leading role. If you want to venture into crowd-pleasing, Texas-name-dropping territory, look elsewhere: These are works of depth and consequence, of life’s mistakes and—as the ironic title suggests—lessons learned. Nelson’s work is ambitious, and though not everything succeeds, the wins far outnumber the losses. “Do Not Appear Surprised” and “Overnight Sensation” are both memorable love letters, one urgent, the other grateful. And there’s an unnamed longing running throughout. “Perfect String” grasps for sense from life, while “If You Name a Thing It Dies” knows the maturity it takes to let go: “If you take it in/And make it yours/It’s not what it was anymore.”

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