Anderson Fair presents Beaver Nelson.
Somewhere in Texas, between San Antonio and Austin, there's a house painted in song. Out of respect for the inhabitants' privacy, it'd be rude to give out the exact address. But it could be on Lake McQueeney, a little north of Seguin, and possibly across the street from a tiny little Thai restaurant. Or maybe not. Just know that it's out there, somewhere—and that, should its present or future owners ever feel inclined to trade anonymity for their rightful share in the continuing legend of Beaver Nelson, fair is fair. "Yes," they could boast with pride, "this is the house that Beaver painted while writing his masterpiece!"
From 2000's Little Brother to 2001's Undisturbed to 2002's Legends of the Super Heroes to 2004's Motion, Beaver's marked his territory as one of the most consistently intriguing best-kept secrets in Americana music. Singer-songwriters—even good ones—are a dime a dozen in that genre, and nowhere more so than in Austin; but Beaver Nelson has long stood out from the crowd as an exceptionally distinctive voice. As writer and longtime Beaver champion Andrew Dansby put it succinctly in his review of Legends for Blender, "A younger generation of singer-songwriters seem content be smart or melodic; Nelson achieves both with superhuman ease."
But Nelson, like all superheroes and many an under-the-mainstream-radar super-songwriter, maintains a somewhat secret identity as a hard-working painter-for-hire. Which is how, shortly after the birth of his second child (daughter Katie) in the winter of 2005/2006, he found himself spending a good 10 weeks all by his lonesome painting that aforementioned house: exterior by day, interior long into the wee hours of the morning. Opportunity knocked.
"Before that job came up, I didn't have any new songs," he explains. "I knew in the back of my head that I needed to start writing soon, but I couldn't really get anything done at home with the kids. So when I got handed this thing, it was perfect. I hadn't been in a position like that where I had no other distractions for like, six of seven years. I went out to the house and I'd stay there alone for up to a week at a time, working 16 hours a day. And the whole time I had my guitar with me, so if a lyric or melody or chord progression came to me at any time during the day, I'd take a quick break and jot something down."
Finished record now in hand, Beaver still marvels at how easily his most Exciting Opportunity came together. Almost, when you really think about it, like it kinda just made itself. But there's no hucksterism or even irony for irony's sake at work here—just a little self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, it was Beaver himself who put it so eloquently on his last album, " ... it really shouldn't be so hard."
And it's not. All it takes is lots of practice and a bit of perfect timing.
And, sometimes, a little paint.