One of the newer local acts I've been following with keen interest in recent months is Ghost of Kyle Bradford, a.k.a. dude-with-acoustic-guitar Kyle Hawkins. It's the vocal delivery that does it for me: Hawkins possesses a rough, husky whisper that's neither pretty, nor grating, but is simply soulful and real, somewhere between world-weary and hopeful think Paul Westerberg singing in a hushed voice at midnight to a sleeping baby, warning of life's troubles and disappointments but stressing the small joys to come, too. Hawkins' guitar strums are rudimentary yet effective, propelling things forward and placing the focus where it probably should be that voice, the haunting melodies, his vivid imagery of lonely bars and mocking stars. And songs that live in the darkness before the dawn, letting in light just when you need them to.
Sun., Sept. 7, 9 p.m., 2008