GRAHAM WEBER Reviews & Press
REVIEWED BY DOUG FREEMAN, FRI., JUNE 6, 2014
Graham WeberFaded Photos
"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'sDoor 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.
Lone Star Music Magazine
REVIEWED BY RICHARD SKANSE
If you want evidence that Graham Weber can rock, proceed directly to Ashes in the Rearview, the new album by So Long, Problems, the Stones/Replacements-happy side project he co-fronts with Mike Schoenfeld. But although Weber certainly does that hair-of-the-dog stuff well, fans of the Ohio-reared, Austin-based singer-songwriter's handful of excellent solo albums since his 2005 debut, Naive Melodies, know what he really excels at are the kind of gorgeously melancholy musings that are best imbibed after last call. The short but sweet Faded Photos is par for that course, offering eight hauntingly melodic ruminations on memory, love, loss, and regret - and more often than not, all of the above ("Ballad of the 04 Lounge"). Unlike his last album, 2011's female guest-laden Women, Weber sings every song here all by his lonesome, but his voice is still a beauty in it's own right: as expressive and plaintive as Jeff Tweedy's at it's most vulnerable ("Boston", "No One"), but distinguished by a keening shimmer around the edges here and there and comes to the fore with chilling effectiveness on "Talia". That voice and Weber's songs - as strong lyrically as they are melodically - would have been more than enough to make Faded Photos a prized keepsake; the unfailingly elegant arrangements, rife with evocative cello and additional strings, are just the icing on the cake.
"Graham Weber * Women"
Wise and soulful songs of love and desire written by a Texan with a relaxed vocal delivery,
Harry Nilsson-like tunefulness and dynamic grasp of earnestness and exaltation. His songs are finely etched with telling details of starkness and romance. “All About You” says it all, a songwriter telling the listener that all his songs are and always have been “all about you,” which is the main message at the heart of every song in some ways, crystallized here with soulful focus. “Unrequited Love” is gentle and intimate, and deceptively simple. Painted with tender vocals, acoustic guitar and yearning pedal steel, it’s a song rich with beautiful lyrical details, the work of a seasoned songwriter, a guy who knows what he’s doing with these elements of chords, words and melodies.
The harmonic shift on the title speaks to either great inspiration or great instincts and probably both. There’s a lot of emotional depth here, behind all these songs, like smiles hidden behind sad eyes. “Black and White,” is an emotional epic, soaring on a swelling bed of Hammond organ. It’s got the soulful swagger and youthful abandon of early Springsteen. “All your silver linings flash before you,” he sings in “Still Be Mine,” a musical suite with a wonderful title, a poignant promise, sung to a Tom Waitsian tune as produced by Brian Wilson, “Don’t cry, you can still be mine.” It ends with a perfect ending tune, “Sleep It Off,” a nicely nostalgic sounding duet with the wonderful Betty Soo about sleeping off what came before to start again in the morning. Jonathan Doyle plays a drunken Guy Lombardo clarinet which is the ideal celebratory seasoning surrounding the loving advice, “Sleep it off, and then start it off again.” Inventive and inspired songwriting and record-making, and a damn good listen. – Paul Zollo
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// November 18, 2011 // The Austin Chronicle
"Graham Weber: Women"
"Vibrant unexpected punches" writes Doug Freeman for Graham's recent album "Women"
The Graham Weber of Women is a desperate man, broken and beaten and confronting all of his own excuses. "I'm searching for escape from all the things I do to keep myself immune," the local singer-songwriter declares on his fourth LP. Weber's a master of narrative and image in his songs, capturing slight, glinting moments that pass so tentatively by, but Women turns that attention inward for a complex emotional reckoning. As "I'm Already Lonely," "Settle Down," "Black and White," and the trembling, unadorned "Baltimore" all strike with a brutal rawness, the production and arrangements manage to balance and ease the sullen sentiment with vibrant unexpected punches, as with bookenders "Sweet Virginia Brown" and "Sleep It Off," featuring local songstresses Dana Falconberry and BettySoo, respectively. The female harmonies likewise shade both heartbreak and hope, courtesy of Carrie Rodriguez, Bonnie Whitmore, and more, Weber working through memory and gin. As in life, Women isn't always easy, but it's more than worth the struggle.
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// December 15, 2011 // Songs:Illinois
"Graham Weber’s new record “Women” (feat. BettySoo, Carrie Rodriguez, Dana Falconberry)"
Graham is a favorite of much more well know Austin singer-songwriters (including Slaid Cleaves who took him under his wing and also recorded one of his songs). In his short time in Austin he’s gone from being the opener to being a headliner (I saw him MC a show at the cactus cafe at SXSW one year). His new record is called Women. I guess it’s in part a celebration and also a condemnation of that word. Graham was going through tough relationship times when he wrote and recorded the songs but also he has enlisted a treasure trove of Austin women to sing on it (Carrie Rodriguez, Amanda Shires, BettySoo, Dana Falconberry, Bonnie Whitmore, Leslie Stevens).
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Album: THE DOOR TO THE MORNING
// February 8, 2008 // The Austin Chronicle
"Graham Weber: The Door to the Morning"
"Door offers some of Weber's finest songwriting but also a jolt to the arrangements" writes Doug Freeman:
If Graham Weber's sophomore album, Beggars Blues, bowed to acoustic Dylan, his third rises with purpose. Door offers some of Weber's finest songwriting but also a jolt to the arrangements courtesy of Leatherbag's production, hand-claps, and Hammond organ punching up the rolling optimism of opener "Snow in July" and a propulsive rhythm rocking the Tom Petty-esque "After the Boulevard." Yet Weber's voice remains languorous with a restrained, nasal drawl, "Candle's So Close" waxing toward John Prine and a familiar Jeff Tweedy disillusion slowly taking hold of the album. Romances spark and fade, through the beautiful desperation of "Italian Lullaby" into the bitter strokes of "Bite Your Tongue." The backside works through a crushing despair in fairground lights flashing desolate, the titular entryway to the morning never opened, and culminates in the ultimate resignation of "Nevermind." "Hearts break every day," Weber sighs on "Field of Marigolds." True, but rarely are they voiced with such purpose.
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// January 1, 2009 // Texas Music Magazine
"The Year in Recordings"
The Door to the Morning: "He folds sadness, longing and regret into beauty like poetic origami."
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Album: BEGGAR'S BLUES
// March 23, 2006 // Houston Press
"Graham Weber: Beggar's Blues"
"Beggar's Blues, shows him as a first-rate songwriter, with equal parts Freewheelin'-era Dylan-esque dense wordplay and Lyle Lovett-esque sonic portraits of desperate lovers, wistful drunks and dead friends." writes Bob Ruggerio:
In this country, we're facing a population explosion that's verging on a crisis of catastrophic proportions. An overabundance that threatens to rip apart the very fabric of civilization as we know it! I speak, of course, of musicians whose breathless bios utter the phrase "Austin-based Americana singer-songwriter." But wait! Out of the pack of mindless clones name-checking Townes Van Zandt comes Graham Weber, whose talents both in front of the blank page and on the stage are actually real. His sophomore CD, Beggar's Blues, shows him as a first-rate songwriter, with equal parts Freewheelin'-era Dylan-esque dense wordplay and Lyle Lovett-esque sonic portraits of desperate lovers, wistful drunks and dead friends. Alternatively witty and bouncy ("Love and Money," "Stars and Circles") and deep ("Cincinnati," "Avenue A"), this 25-year-old Austinite (via Kent, Ohio) is more than a cut above the rest of the souls crowding the Cactus Cafe's open-mike nights. Which isn't surprising when you find his mentor is the similarly gifted Slaid Cleaves. With Weber's rich voice and deft acoustic strumming, along with a rotating lineup of backup musicians, Beggar's Bluesis a pleasant surprise that also repays concentration and repeated listening. A true talent on the ascent.
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// March 21, 2006 // Songs:Illinois
"Real Austin music – Graham Weber"
"I think there’s a shortage of real protege’s these days. Perhaps it’s because bands don’t get out as much as they used to nowadays. Now you can hone your sound from your computer as long as you have broadband and Pro Tools. In Austin the protege and mentor system is still going strong. In Graham Weber’s case his mentor has been one of my favorite singer songwriters and current prince of Austin Slaid Cleaves.
It’s hard to know how much Slaid helped this young man make the rounds and improve his sound but according to Graham himself “he’s single-handedly helped me along this year”. In fact Slaid is going to even record one of Grham Weber’s songs on his next record.
This is as good as it gets in the folk/blues/singer-songwriter genre. The images that accumualte in the song “After All” are enough to make any established songwriter humble in their presence. Order Graham Weber’s new record Beggar’s Blues (Jan 31, 2006) here.
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