Justin Beckler | Oh! My Troubled Mind (s/r)

Almost gospel in nature, the songs are quite uplifting. Also, if you're into this kind of thing, a hint of spiritual desperation and a yearn for direction seems to live in Beckler's words. But for those who have had this cup of tea before, Beckler is only skin deep.

 

cd_becklerJust a few years ago, the singer/songwriter was the minority of musical acts. Almost considered weak by sound, they were few and far between, and besides, people wanted to "rock." Fast-forward to the present and you can't walk down the street without tripping over one. The folk movement of the past couple of years has blown up to epic proportions. Singer/songwriters have slowly taken over record store shelves one lonely song at a time. Justin Beckler is hoping to sit along side of the most popular contemporaries, enticing us with his songs of woe, personal heartfelt stories, and original outlook on life, music, and love. It's just too bad he's too little, too late.

Oh! My Troubled Mind is the new self-released album from Beckler and it's proof that the line has been crossed; neo-folk is dying. The problem for Beckler sits in freshness and significance. Having heard all these songs before, from other bands in slightly different forms, they lay stale next to each other on the album. When Beckler proudly sings "There's a train a-comin,'" I can only feel like I've heard it before from numerous other songwriters, bringing the album full circle back to a lack of interest. Without any kind of uniqueness, there's no reason to really pay attention in the first place.

Beckler does have a nice voice, no doubt; he oddly sounds like a preacher or young Tom Waits (minus the sponge in his throat). This only carries his songwriting abilities to a mediocre level at best. It's an issue of how much a songwriter wants to be a throwback. Unfortunately for Beckler, the sentimental value of hearing a Waits-y artist doesn't convey the way he may want.

Beckler does make good on his promise to stay consistent. The album is laced with a folk-country twist sprinkled with southern rock. Almost gospel in nature, the songs are quite uplifting. Also, if you're into this kind of thing, a hint of spiritual desperation and a yearn for direction seems to live in Beckler's words. But for those who have had this cup of tea before, Beckler is only skin deep with his predicaments. It's the kind of required problems a singer/songwriter needs to make a folk-rock album. It's been done before. There simply needs to be imagination in the genre, something Beckler hasn't supplied.

Maybe Justin Beckler will blend in nicely with his colleagues. But it's unlikely he'll stand out from the crowd as an innovative entity. That takes a little more patience, time, and artistic ability. C | Chris Schott

RYIL: Tom Waits, Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens

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