By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
By Julie Seabaugh
By Julie Seabaugh
With a deep, sonorous voice and a satchel full of minor-key strums, Caleb Travers appeared on the singer-songwriter circuit about a year ago. Blue Weathered Dreams is his first album, and it achieves its goal of setting the stage for Travers' country-colored story-songs. These songs ache with the seriousness of a singer who sees darkness on every horizon, from the unbreakable bonds of family to the search for redemption. Some of the subject matter may seem a bit heavy for a guy in his mid-'20s, but Travers sells it with the conviction in his voice and with a modicum of country clichés (although "Have You Changed" retells the tale of young, doomed love set against the backdrop of a drunk daddy and a suffocatingly small town. Sound familiar?).
The arrangements retain an austere beauty that place Travers' voice and acoustic guitar at the center. Scott Swartz of the Linemen rounds off the rough edges with spot-on steel guitar, and the rest of Big City Lights do a good job of keeping out of the way. Most alt-country audiences don't listen to the genre for sprightly three-minute pop songs (unless they're Old 97's fans). Still, many of these tunes sound like they are in need of an editor. Six of these ten songs pass the five-minute mark, and without any change in tempo from one song to the next, much of Blue Weathered Dreams bleeds together. The unadorned "Got No Feeling" finds Travers plumbing a hole in his heart that seems bottomless; clocking in at over six minutes, the song feels as endless as the singer's longing. Though the songs feel overstuffed at times, they are worth a listen if only to hear Travers beautiful tenor voice; it's a standout among local singers in any genre. — Christian Schaeffer
7 p.m. Saturday, February 9. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.
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