For 31-year-old Minnesota-native Ben Weaver, the follow-up to his lauded 2008 album, The Ax in the Oak, came from a somewhat unexpected series of life choices and experiences. In the spring of 2009 Weaver decided to take some time away from touring to pursue his interest in food and cooking. It was while working as a prep and garde manger cook at a farm-to-table restaurant in Minneapolis, that the songs on his latest album, Mirepoix and Smoke, started to take shape:
"Eventually the good songs started to come. Ones that felt real, had their own legs. They came like all good things do. When I ceased looking. Connected to my surroundings, my past, my life, for what it all was, without romanticizing what I thought it should or could be. I found a new perspective. Let the birds in my head fly free."
While The Ax in the Oak was more complex in its sound—the result of a collaboration between Weaver and Brian Deck (Califone, Iron and Wine)—Mirepoix and Smoke is a decidedly more bucolic affair; its songs are barely accompanied by more than Weaver’s guitar or banjo and his voice, allowing for a more sensory experience of Weaver’s signature lyrical poetics. You just don’t hear Mirepoix and Smoke—you smell it, taste it, feel it and see it.
Praise for Ben Weaver
"...country-rooted Americana full of weary determination and aphoristic clarity, somewhere between the Band and Tom Waits." —The New York Times
"...musical postcards that recall a rural Tom Waits, or Greg Brown in his dark, bluesy moments. He's like that spooky old guy who lives in a trailer but tells amazing stories." —Utne Reader
"Ben Weaver is the most exciting young songwriter I've come across, an American original whose voice and guitar are matched only by the power of his words. His songs are an incredible, haunting gift of music." —Author Larry Brown (1951-2004)
"...strange, skin-prickling tales picked up from the Moebius strip of a lost highway he's been compelled to travel on.... like a hillbilly Leonard Cohen." —Mojo