[25 February 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Tom Brosseau is a folk troubadour in the most traditional sense, and he’s been busy in the past few years recording with Angel Correa as the Shelleys, or playing and recording with John C. Reilly and others. But it’s been almost five years since his last solo record, Posthumous Success, and Grass Punks is an excellent return. It hearkens back to the more stripped-down compositions of 2007’s Cavalier, and the intimate tunes Brosseau crafted with collaborator Sean Watkins this time strike an impressive chord.
Brosseau is a multi-tooled folk singer, capable of biting humor (“Cradle Your Device”), landscape (“Stuck on the Roof Again”), depictions of home (“Today is a Bright New Day”), romantic nostalgia (“Tami”), and a guileless love of music (“I Love to Play Guitar”). But lest this all sound like typical folk ground, Brosseau makes it his own with sweet melodies and careful, clever details, like the “heavy metal bull horn and a burn from the sun” gets from a swap meet. These songs feel quiet—as though they could maybe drift into the background—but it’s the subtle craft of Brosseau’s words and the understated interplay between him and Watkins that make this record resonate. At just more than 27 minutes, it may feel a bit short, but it hardly feels slight. Every songs hits, even if you don’t always feel the full impact until later. Grass Punks is a welcome return from one of the most dynamic voices in modern folk.