Local Honey with Kassi Thomas: Levi Weaver

Exactly four years ago next week, I drove to Nashville to see Imogen Heap. Picked up in England by way of Texas, Levi Weaver opened the show. Dressed like Nashville’s own Man in Black with a “Johnny Cash is a Friend of Mine” T-shirt on under his black leather jacket, Weaver performed a set which revealed his reign as governor in the state of mind where break-up ballads are penned, or in his words “an angel of the death of love.” There was no use in trying to pin labels to him–singer/songwriter, one-man band, multi-instrumentalist, live-looper–as he masterfully fused grit with silk before my eyes (and ears, of course).A few months after the conclusion of Imogen Heap’s 2006 US tour, Levi moved to Music City to continue to pursue writing and recording. In late 2007, he released “You Are Never Close to Home, You Are Never Far From Home,” and toured extensively in support of it, including a stop at our own Backdoor Playhouse the following year. In 2008, “All My Best Friends Are Mostly Strangers,” a cover song EP that featured a stunning one-man performance of Mew’s “The Zookeeper Boy,” came out.

In 2009, Levi announced his next project; a full-length record entitled “The Letters of Dr. Kurt G”del.” Beginning in September, one track per month would be released as it was completed. The process was to conclude after one year. Having committed to abandon the years spent reliving unrequited love stories in smoky pubs by leaving the break-up songs behind, Weaver’s writing took an incredibly personal turn. However, the ambitious song-per-month deadlines proved to be too rigid for the creative process, and a brief hiatus occurred to make way for soul-searching. He blogged a few times about calling it quits, but stuck to finishing the album he set out to make.

I find it rather fitting that an album named after a man known best for his incompleteness theorems is still incomplete two months past its originally scheduled release date. Nine of the fifteen tracks have been mixed and released. One of the most revealing insights from the new record is Weaver’s blatant admission of insecurity in his art and himself, as illustrated in the lyrics of “Spirit First (Sincerely, K)” and “I Am Certain I Am a Train.” He has endured a long and wearisome journey from the brooding anglophile self-recording an EP with questionable sound quality in an empty office in 2006, to the bold and painfully honest assertions of a man who wrestled with darkness until he realized that the fire burning inside of him could illuminate the shadows. The future is still uncertain for Levi Weaver – incomplete, if you will, but “The Letters of Dr. Kurt G”del,” now slated for release on December 26, represents profound progress, and as a result, success, however intangible that may be, for one of Nashville’s most hard-working musicians.