Tom Brosseau has the kind of voice that makes you lean in just a little closer to hear it. It is arresting and beautiful, completely unique. At once delicate and grounded, Brosseau is creating some of the more compelling traditional folk music at the moment, and his latest record is no exception. Treasures Untold is a 10-song collection recorded live at an intimate event in Cologne, Germany. Across six adaptations from the Great American Folksong Book, and four of Brosseau’s own original tunes, he manages to build a dreamy, atmospheric mood with just his voice and an acoustic guitar.
Scratches on the floor, contained applause, and the sounds of folks settling in their seats can be heard in the background, placing us right there in the room. “You may forget the singer/But don’t forget this song,” Brosseau sings on A.P. Carter’s “Don’t Forget This Song.” But you couldn’t forget this singer if you tried. Brosseau’s voice is something to behold, and this quiet, live setting is well-suited to it.
If not for the recording’s precise clarity, Treasures Untold could be from another time. There are no production tricks at play here; just Brosseau’s talent in its rawest form. To hear him tell it, Brosseau is a student of music history, including old American guitar playing styles and the songwriters of the past who have inspired him. That love of history comes across in Brosseau’s work, so much so that you can hear his fascination for it when he performs.
Curating a setlist that includes songs by Hank Williams, Sr. (“You Win Again”), Elizabeth Cotten (“When I’m Gone”), and of course, Jimmie Rodgers, who’s song “Treasures Untold” inspired the album’s name, Brosseau plays the role of historian for his audience, bringing these songs and the stories they tell to life.