Treasures Untold

Treasures Untold

by Tom BrosseauTom Brosseau


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With the live Treasures Untold, North Dakota singer/songwriter Tom Brosseau reveals more of the depth of his idiosyncratic persona than we've seen on his consistently excellent -- and quirky -- studio offerings. For many decades, solo acoustic performers often performed a balance of original material and covers from various traditions. While that track fell out of fashion during the heyday of indie rock, certain performers didn't give a damn (Alex Chilton anyone?). Brosseau is among that lot and thank goodness for it. Treasures Untold was recorded live on-stage in Cologne, Brosseau delivers a top-notch, intimate performance with just his voice and guitar. His set encompasses eight standards from the American songbooks of country, folk, and blues, a slippery guitar interlude, and three more compelling originals. After the tape begins running, sounds of the club are heard, glasses tinkling, coins rattling, etc. He begins playing in a meandering finger style that sounds like warming up, but it's actually his instrumental "Empire Builder" from 2015's Treasures Untold, an instrumental whose harmony morphs itself into Hank Williams' "You Win Again." The song has been covered hundreds of times, but Brosseau's clean, unaffected tenor adds a spectral meaning to its lyric. He decides to dig back even further by covering A.P. Carter's "Don't Forget This Song." Where the original emphasized heaven and hell as spiritual locales to fear, Brosseau treats them with detached equanimity. He then underscores this by moving directly into a stellar reading of Rev. Gary Davis' Sunday morning spiritual "I Am the Light of This World" delivered as pure self-affirmation. The original "I Love to Play Guitar" is a translation of his original from Grass Punks. After a tender monologue about roaming through Cologne, he delivers a chilling read of his striking folktale "The Horses Will Not Ride, The Gospel Won't Be Spoken" from his 2002 debut North Dakota. Half a cappella, it's nearly Gothic in its lyric content, but the sharp contrast of its simple, beautiful melody adds softness. His version of Elizabeth Cotten's "Miss Me When I'm Gone" is a complete transformation from the hit by Mainer's Mountaineers' from a stomping square dance barn buster to a tender, poignant, sorrowful declaration to an estranged lover. Brosseau's version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes" erases the pop culture travesty of Bono's version. This empathic reading is timeless. The pain its protagonist expresses is utterly of the moment, even if its melody harkens back to an earlier age. Brosseau's yodel is unaffected, inseparable from the lyric. By contrast, he follows with his own "Today Is a Bright New Day" from Grass Punks, and shifts the mood completely. He closes the show with another striking Rodgers' love song in the classic "Treasures Untold." This is the kind of live date that is all too rare nowadays. It's a tightrope walk that allows the music, not the performer, to dictate the concert. Because he allows this with such grace and openness, Brosseau delivers even more proof of his singular talent.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/01/2017
Label: Crossbill Records
UPC: 0845121013924
catalogNumber: 40
Rank: 140217

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