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Graves shows his sides

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., February 26, 2020

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

This was not your typical Shakey Graves night of music. Not when you're playing both solo and with your band and trying out new material to gauge audience reaction and develop the songs.

No matter because the Texan's sheer force of charisma - not to mention his songs - made the atypical about as entertaining as usual at the second of two-sold out shows.

Graves (aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia) occupies a musical space incorporating both bluesy leaning songs along with more singer/songwriter stylings. He sort of has a John Paul White approach to his music (especially on "City in a Bottle").

No doubt that part of Graves' charm is that he has a bright, light-handed stage presence that came off as fresh and entertaining without overdoing it. From the get go of his opening set, playing solo with acoustic guitar in hand, Graves proceeded to give his dating history going back to his middle school girlfriend (it didn't work out). He's quick to joke around, sometimes with the song itself to engage the crowd.

Prime proof, his song, "Aibohphobia," a fictitious fear of palindromes, which are words that are the same forwards and backwards (Graves reference the word "racecar" as an example).

Okay, so he's funny but there's more to the humor for Graves. His songs don't necessarily bowl you over, but it's over the long haul (two sets in this case plus an encore, totaling about 110 minutes) that Graves succeeds.

His backing band came and went over the course of the night, although mainly hung around during the second set, giving a bit more backbone to the material.

The evening with Graves provided a chance to hear different sides of the artist - solo and with band, old and new material - and all were welcome.