North Dakota native Tom Brosseau's new CD, Empty Houses Are Lonely, is full of sparse acoustic arrangements, delicate, pretty melodies and more heartache than one lonely troubadour should have to bear.
hide captionTom Brosseau's live performances have earned him a large word-of-mouth fan base.
Brosseau is generating a lot of buzz by playing in some of Los Angeles' hottest live music venues. His biggest asset seems to be a voice that recalls the androgynous swoops and swoons of sensitive compatriots like Jeff Buckley and Devendra Banhart. He mixes homespun charm with tunes that alternately conjure classic acoustic blues and sepia-toned daydreams.
However, Brosseaus arrangements tend to wander, and his ruminations about heartbreak and bad memories can be very dark. On "Hour to Grow a Woman from the Ground," Brosseau starts with a story about fishing, turns to his attempts to conjure up a mate to stave off loneliness, and sums up the situation like this:
"It's the same kind of feeling in an old-folk's home / Even though you love 'em you can't wait for 'em to go."
Sometimes his songs seem a little undercooked, as if the sad-eyed tunes are hiding their heads in oversized hoodies. The CD is the kind of no-frills, rainy-day folk record that could have been recorded in 1973 — and if it had been, you get the feeling it might have become a cult classic.