Tom Brosseau’s magical storytelling in North Dakota Impressions will leave you spellbound right until its end. Much like his two previous albums this LP is musically sophisticated. Each song is accompanied with a haunting voice and alluring melodies, surrounded by a more rustic sound.
Brosseau’s strong ties to folk music can be particularly heard in ‘A Trip to Emerado’. The track blends a rich and layered arrangement alongside the natural instrumentation heard throughout this album.
With the patient exploration of a storyteller, Brousseau adds lustre to the song with lyrics that take you on a personal journey, ‘I am struck with a notion that all past erases.’ It is lyrics like this that ironically takes you right back to the beginning of Brousseau’s childhood in North Dakota, as he started to ponder the fear of being trapped in his hometown, Emerado. He puts it quite poetically in some of the most sobering lyrics that he has written to date, ‘Now just think of that, all that space and still nowhere to run.’
North Dakota Impressions approaches each song with the same sense of thoughtful realism. He lays the groundwork with his first track ‘No matter where I roam’, a song that follows Brosseau trying to hold on to his hometown whilst relentlessly trying to run away from it. ‘No matter where I roam, there is always something that reminds me of home.’ This theme is also echoed in the songs ‘Fit To Be Tied,’ ‘You Can’t Stop’ and ‘On the Gravel Road’.
An additional highlight of the album is ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race.’ A playful instrumental that successfully re-creates an expansive and whimsical mood to the album. Paired with this track is ‘Nobody to call my Own’ and ‘Slipping Away’ – lyrically charged songs that take on a more intimate tone. Each song touches on the notion of love and home. Provoking the question, is love the reason to stay tied down to any place?
But Brosseau’s most memorable track has to be ‘The Horses Will Not Ride/ The Gospel Will Not Be Shaken.’ This song particularly pulls on your heartstrings as you are drawn into Brousseau’s past and present, as he grieves for the loss of his boyhood church which was destroyed in a fire. ‘I wiped my eyes with my tie and looked up to the skyline, coming through now and then was a little bit of sunshine.’ His weathered and earthy voice finally concludes ‘My heart is kinda broken.’
The deeper you sink into these tracks it is easier to see the compelling vulnerability and transparency showcased throughout North Dakota Impressions – It makes connecting with the album that much easier. Brosseau takes in what’s around him and delicately mixes in the memories of his past and hometown to give everyone the opportunity to explore and rediscover the nostalgia around the idea that home really where the heart is.
‘North Dakota Impressions’ is out on the 16th September, via Crossbill Records
This Tom Brousseau article was written by Patience Takyuka, a GIGsoup contributor