Album Review | Folk

Tom Brosseau, ‘Grass Punks’

Tom Brosseau revels in simplicity on “Grass Punks,” the folk singer’s seventh studio release. Except for rare exceptions like the mandolin on “Gregory Page of San Diego” and the light electric guitar that lines “Today Is a Bright New Day,” the songs are limited to two acoustics and his voice, and sometimes not even that; the short, single-guitar instrumental “Green Shampoo” could serve as a practice exercise within the grasp of a novice picker. Combined with a voice built around a soft smile (even when singing about the fracturing of human connection, as on “Cradle Your Device”), it should provide a clarity that concentrates the songs’ power, but the catch is that there isn't really much of the latter to speak of. “Grass Punks” essentially consists of scaffolding for material to come later, which may be why Brosseau keeps the proceedings under a brisk half hour. Simplicity can be a virtue, but it’s not enough on its own. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Gregory Page of San Diego”

Tom Brosseau performs at Passim Feb. 5.

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