Howie Beck

By Garth Paulson

How would you like to be constantly compared to someone else who has reached a level of significance that makes it next to impossible to ever live up to? Such is the life of Howie Beck who, regardless of his own merits, will likely always be compared to the late Elliot Smith, based on their similar vocal deliveries and song writing styles. However, with Beck’s latest self-titled release he has created a powerful testament to his own abilities, which will hopefully garner him the respect he deserves.

Having taken five years off since his last release, Beck has certainly had the time to mull over every possible detail on this album and it shows, resulting in 13 structurally perfect pop songs. Every note, section, line and instrument is exactly in the right place. When “We Waited” screams that it should have a banjo in it, all of a sudden gentle pluckings can be heard. When you’re thinking just how much you want to hear the lines “Please don’t sell out/Like everybody else does” again, Beck complies with devastating beauty. When you’re beginning to think that the album is becoming slightly too sweet Beck utters a heartfelt “fuck” and continues on his path.

Whether it’s the quiet acoustic ballads fans are used to or some of the hardest songs we’ve heard Beck perform on record, this album pulls it off in a fashion that anyone would be hard pressed not to enjoy. Perhaps the music community will stand up and realize that, despite the voice, Howie Beck should be seen as more than just another Elliot Smith clone.

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