Music » Critics' Picks

Nels Andrews

5 p.m. Friday, August 29. Iron Barley, 5510 Virginia Avenue

As peripatetic, post-Townes Van Zandt troubadours go, Nels Andrews is convincing and compelling, less obsessed with his own journal keeping than he is with record making, which can be synonymous with soul making. On this year's Off Track Betting, he gives songs with titles like "Fever Dream," "Temple Incense" and "Shoot Out the Stars" mysterious but never ostentatious sonics. Americana archetypes of banjo, accordion, brushed drums and whorls of sustained and slid guitars spin out over a sonic landscape that reflects an imagination that's as at home in Brooklyn as it is in New Mexico. Those evocative vistas would just be pretty window dressings without well-considered, well-observed songs to illuminate them. Andrews has those in spades — and a way of singing them that's rasped, intimate and wise.

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