Judging by the brightly colored artwork on the cover of Paper Sky, singer/songwriter Ben Weaver´s fifth album, you can tell it´s a considerably less dour ride than Weaver´s previous offering, Stories Under Nails. The new album opens with a misty, atmospheric intro that almost bursts with optimism. Still, we´re talking about Weaver here, and sure enough, the sun shower doesn´t last long. He quickly launches into a tune rife with isolation, despair, homelessness, and heavy cloud cover. Like a dense meal, Paper Sky lingers in the gut and slows you down, creating a sort of incapacitation by sorrow (the musical equivalent of a regretful food coma). This is a good thing, of course, because Weaver excels at it. But where his voice felt almost oppressive in its boom and immediacy on Stories Under Nails, here it blends with the other instruments. This makes it easier for Weaver´s emotions to take cover in the arrangements and also more compelling for the listener to dig them out. Throw in masterfully restrained electronic touches, Weaver´s obvious push toward an expanded creative voice, and the hand of esteemed producer Brian Deck and you get a sleeper gem of an album by an artist on the rise.