Tom Brosseau is a folksinger and songwriter from North Dakota who has forged his own distinct place in the genre, a presence which, maybe still an unknown for a fair few, is one of those once bitten lingeringly enticed propositions. With a distinctive voice matched by his acoustic guitar invention earning him waves of acclaim and recognition through records and live performances, the now LA based artist releases new album Grass Punks. It is a release which crafts an appealing and at times irresistible encounter and though it does not quite light personal fires throughout, the album lures attendance and attention across its appealing endeavour.
From learning the acoustic guitar through his grandmother whilst he was in grade school, Brosseau has gone on to perform across the US and UK, into Europe and on to the likes of Japan, Australia, and Taiwan. He has played and shared stages with the likes of John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, John Doe, Juliana Hatfield, PJ Harvey, as well as John Reilly & Friends whilst his previous releases has led to his songs being covered by artists such as Chris Thile, Silje Nes, Emily & Christy, and Mice Parade. Collaborations with Gregory Page in a duo called American Folksingers and with Angela Correa in the duo Les Shelleys which led to a Fat Cat Records released album in 2010 has also marked his career to date. All has added to the acclaim and stature of Brosseau earned by his own creativity which the new album again enhances.
Released via Crossbill Records USA /Tin Angel Records and produced by Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Grass Punks takes little time in gripping attention and a swiftly growing appetite with opener Cradle Your Device. From the dark heavy bass strum and melodic caresses around the mellow voice of Brosseau which opens up the track, an addictive potency frees its enticement to wrap around the senses and imagination. There is an eagerness and almost punk simplicity to the track which is impossible to ignore or resist, and admittedly generally move on from without a couple of replay hits before entering into the rest of the album. It is a dramatically virulent and emotive delve into a technology hampered relationship and the pinnacle of the album which instantly puts pressure on the rest of the release.
It is a challenge most prove to be up for as after the relaxed temptation of Stuck On The Roof Again makes an enjoyable persuasion the combined lures of Tami and Today Is A Bright New Day brings reactions back up to another eager level. The first of this pair is a softly spoken increasingly infectious melodic breeze upon the ears; vocal harmonies and the poetic elegance of the guitars blending for a delightful enterprising and contagious caress. Its successor is more of a slow burner in its persuasion. Certainly it makes an appealing entrance and initial allurement but it is as passion and melodic intensity increases just a few degrees in warmth and energy that the song comes alive and strolls to almost anthemic choruses which simply invigorate the emotions.
Both Love High John the Conqueror Root with its XTC/Andy Partridge like guitar and melodic enterprise laced with an intriguing amount of discord and Running from Zombies which simultaneously seduces and smothers to make you feel trapped and liberated such its close quarters melodic persuasion and brewing intensity, next give the imagination a blaze of impressive stimulus to devour and enjoy. They make light of the plateau set by the first song to rival it in strength and invention if not in contagion. From here on in though, the album for personal tastes does not lead the emotions to the same depths as bred by earlier tracks. Songs like Gregory Page of San Diego and I Love to Play Guitar are more than decent and skilfully sculpted pieces of songwriting and presented beautifully but fail to trigger anything more than satisfaction beyond the ears. The same applies to closing song We Were Meant to Be Together which ensures the album comes to a strong and passionate conclusion yet escapes sparking any lingering hunger for itself.
Grass Punks is a release of two halves in many ways but one pleasing and creative adventure which entertains and impresses overall. When it is at its full potency the album is a captivating gem whilst the moments which do not spark up, what are again just personal tastes and needs, still only show a class and imaginative craft which reveals Tom Brosseau as a folk artist certain to continue to stretch and invigorate the genre.
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