Tom Brosseau’s earlier albums have clearly defined him as a talented songwriter, one whose songs, voice, and sparse guitar are the only essentials. Even when employing guest musicians on these releases, Brosseau still seems set apart and on his own, while the players keep to themselves in the background.
With Posthumous Success, Brosseau has found his place among accompanists, a fit that feels more like a well-worn t-shirt than a scratchy sweater. And together, the players have breathed new life into the bone-dry tales that have become his trademark. Joined by Mice Parade’s Adam Pierce and Small Sails’ Ethan Rose, the compositions not only tell stories, but they become moods and mindsets; vivid wordplay gives way to emotive pleas, and understated melodies become vibrant themes. The distorted rattle of “You Don’t Know My Friends” is unexpectedly warm, “New Heights” has a golden acoustic glow perpetuated by electrified textures, and “Axe and Stump” is prime Brosseau lyricism, backed by bare drumming and hand claps.
There has been little doubt that Tom Brosseau is a preeminent songwriter, but it is Posthumous Success that reveals a complete sound, the pieces fitting comfortably to form a band rather than broken into music playing factions. Here’s to hoping that these 13 tracks aren’t a one-off, because they promise so much more.
Posthumous Success is out now on Fat Cat Records.