When I heard Beaver Nelson’s The Last Hurrah, a debut album ten years in the making, I hoped that Nelson would last. He’d already been through the mill, having at least two potential releases dropped by labels, never to be heard again. So when Freedom Records went under and a year passed with no trace of Nelson, I assumed Nelson would join the other happy one-offs on my CD shelf. Turns out, I worried too soon.
Nelson’s fourth album in five years, Legends of Super Heroes is the latest in a series that has featured a different sound for each recording and ace songwriting throughout. Nelson has moved from roughshod rock to elegant folk/pop and has learned a lot on his trek back to the newly reformed Freedom Records. He shows a knack for subtle and clever arrangements that don’t overwhelm his earnest songwriting style. “Anything Easy Left” works fine as a simple acoustic ditty, but Nelson and producer/guitarist “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb add a simple keyboard or guitar part here and there to really bring the lyrics to life. Songs range from the silly (“Baloney Bay”) to the profound (“Mile Markers”), and each one hits its own perfect pitch.