Tom Brosseau, "Treasures Untold" (Crossbill)
A character in a Tom Brosseau song doesn't just cry — he wipes his eyes with his tie. Such details magnify the beauty in Brosseau's precise performing style.
The wonderfully quirky North Dakota singer-songwriter goes live on "Treasures Untold," and the show's pace is unhurried from the start, with lengthy silence between songs contributing to the reflective mood. The recording opens not with the swell of a cheering crowd, but the sound of coins dribbling on a table in an otherwise quiet room.
Next there's a lengthy, typically eclectic acoustic guitar intro. The set showcases Brosseau's spartan, deceptively accomplished playing.
Then comes his high tenor, an intimate and inviting instrument that makes a listener lean forward. At times Brosseau sings a cappella, or accompanies himself with a single plucked string, and he has a first-class hum.
Original tunes are mixed with well-chosen covers by such heavyweights as Hank Williams, A.P. Carter and Jimmie Rodgers. Brosseau sings of misplaced trust, eternal damnation and love at first sight. There's also a nod to Indian food.
The album was recorded in Cologne, Germany, of all places. "I had a mind for rambling, so far away from home," Brosseau sings. When the spectators applaud, it sounds as if there are a couple of dozen people present. They're lucky to be.