First Listen: Tom Brosseau, ‘Perfect Abandon’

By Bob Boilen  |  NPR

Tom Brosseau's new album, Perfect Abandon, comes out March 3.
Tom Brosseau's new album, Perfect Abandon, comes out March 3. Carey Braswell, Courtesy of the artist

“They call me the hard luck boy,” Tom Brosseau says at the top of his enchanting new album, later adding, “It all happened a very long time ago, when I was just a boy. My mother took me on what she called ‘a little shopping trip’ four or five states away, to a city she’d never been to before.” In just that one song, in just four minutes, the North Dakota singer and storyteller tells a heartbreaking tale that hasn’t left me since I first heard it.

Brosseau has been recording stories of wonder and mystery since the start of this century. His music has the spirit of church to it; of long-ago traditions and the Great American Songbook. His voice is timeless, and at times genderless. But what’s really special about Perfect Abandon is the arrangements and how these songs are captured.

Working with John Parish, a singer-songwriter and collaborator for the likes of PJ Harvey, Brosseau works to capture this music around a single microphone. Just a two-piece drum kit, an upright bass, and acoustic and Stratocaster guitars get placed meticulously around that one mic, with no mixing. The result is as close to having Tom Brosseau in your living room as possible. With these wonderfully honest stories, the fit is perfect. So close your eyes and listen.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit


Tom Brosseau, 'Perfect Abandon'

Play all
Hard Luck Boy
Artist: Tom Brosseau
Album: Perfect Abandon
Loading the player ...