In addition to bearing a striking and somewhat unsettling resemblance to a young John Mayer, Chicago singer and songwriter Derek Nelson at times skirts a similar "vaguely rootsy meets bland pop pandering" sound on some of the tracks from his debut EP, "Something Obscure," a six-song effort for which he seemingly spared no expense. (Recorded in Chicago, it was mixed at the famous alt-rock sanctum of Smart Studios in Madison, Wisc.)
Yet while a track such as "Tightrope Walker" is easily dismissed as romantic fluff, others such as "Sidestreets in London" have a more heartfelt lyrical approach and winning musical touches like melancholy violin and endearingly Dylanesque harmonica. In other words, it could go either way for this young aspirant--he's only got a handful of gigs under his belt to date--and one hopes he'll take the more challenging, less predictable path. Meanwhile, sample his music at www.dereknelsonmusic.com or www.myspace.com/derekchristophernelson.