Posthumous Success is Tom Brosseau’s eighth album in four years and I have not been able to get it out of my head. A prolific songwriter and performer, as well as a writer of stories and other musings on his blog (tombrosseau.com/blog), the North Dakotan clearly has a lot to say, but his music is remarkably uncluttered and beautiful.
A BBC review of Brosseau’s previous album described his voice as a “hermaphrodite quaver,” and the unusual quality is noticeable, coupled with an underlying strength, coming from his country influences such as Tom Waits and Hank Williams.
Brosseau’s previous albums have either been collections of songs built up over the years, or records frantically recorded in a short time, but Posthumous Success was recorded in two locations and produced by two different people. It is polished in the best way possible; Brosseau is honest and careful in his lyrics, and his guitar hooks and riffs have a rhythm which is both lazy and purposeful.
The album has symmetry, beginning and ending with ‘Favorite Color Blue’, although the melody differs in the two renditions. There are four instrumentals, ‘Boothill’, ‘Youth Decay’, ‘Miss Lucy’ and ‘Chandler’, and he flexes his lyrical muscles in ‘Been True’, ‘Big Time’ and ‘Wishbone Medallion’, which are simultaneously funny, poignant and poetic. In ‘Drumroll’, Brosseau delivers a vocal homage to Lou Reed which will make you listen twice.
The third song on this album contains the words, “I’m ready for the big time,” and to my mind, Tom Brosseau deserves much more than posthumous success.
Words: Alice Turner