Another singer-songwriter prepares to bare his old soul to a bar full of half-listening regulars. He tunes, checks one-two, and hardly anyone notices. As he begins to play, the graceful, delicate plucking turns a few heads. Then a beautiful woman's voice rings achingly from the stage, and all eyes turn to correct their ears. But the ears have it: An angelic falsetto flows mellifluously, magically, from the mouth of this man, who traces a musical lineage from Elliott Smith to Paul Simon to Nick Drake while singing songs about losing faith, losing love and losing years. Although some are dumbstruck by the pure outpouring, others grin slyly, waiting for the performer to acknowledge the joke with a wink or a knowing smirk. But let them wait. This is Jeff Hanson's magic, and revealing it ahead of time is almost like giving away the ending of a post-modern novel. To be ambushed by the fragile beauty of Hanson's performance is one of those between-beers Zen moments when you feel like you understand everything just a little bit more.
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