Thoughtful, philosophical singer/songwriter Beaver Nelson has long sought to locate deeper truths, to shape order from the puzzles life puts forward, both past and present. He explained to Rolling Stone
: "I'm pretty obsessed with the notion of time," he says. "It's the basic human problem. What time means and its effect on us and the fact that you can't own it. It's here, then it's gone—you screw up and you don't get it back." On his new album Positive, Nelson continues to reflect in a collection of songs written over the span of his career, brimming with intelligence, humor and his trademark pop hooks. Produced by his longtime cohort, Scrappy Jud Newcomb (Patty Griffin, Slaid Cleaves, Ian McLagan's Bump Band) in Marfa and Austin, there are new songs ("Positive", "It Ain't Yours") and some written as early as '94 ("Willing and Able") and '95 ("Bad Movie").
Hailed as a prodigy by Rolling Stone at the tender age of 19, Beaver has released 7 albums since then, but not before getting churned through the major label blender first. By the age of 22 he had two failed record deals and had seen enough of that world to back away. He fronted a rock band for years before returning to solo performance and focusing on songwriting in the wake of the passing of his idol, Townes Van Zandt.
Nelson began playing guitar at 14 and was introduced to Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen by two of his camp counselors. He began to write and record songs, assembling handmade cassettes to sell to friends. He began exploring the Austin open mic scene during high school, driving up from his home in Houston. The vibrant and ultra-supportive scene introduced him to Jimmy La Fave, Jo Carol Pierce and others as well as Troy Campbell and Scrappy Jud Newcomb, members of the great Austin rock band Loose Diamonds.
By the early 90s he was touring and beginning the frustrating major label period in his life, with deals that fell through and a shelved album that did not sound "grunge" enough for the A&R flacks. By the time he signed with Austin-based Freedom Records and released his debut, he had emerged as one of "the most promising writers of the entire decade," according to AllMusic.com. His music has been feted in Rolling Stone
, Texas Monthly
and No Depression
, among many others.