June 23rd, 2009 |

On the dark stage behind McCabe’s guitar shop: Tom Brosseau’s shirt collar was yanked down on one side by his guitar strap. He wore khaki pants and a bolo tie pulled over his green button-up shirt and he looked like he snuck into a cowboy bar after school. He has an innocence about him—blond short hair, a complexion clear as baby’s bum and a shy smile, even when he opens his mouth and raincloud verses float out. Opener Mike Stinson is instead somebody’s cool uncle, gently pushing wisdom to you over a beer… while wearing a full dark blue cowboy suit made from material that’s silky but hard as polyester (I don’t know fabrics.).

Between them, the two covered change, sorrow, love, being, moonlight (Brosseau: “The night was a chalkboard with a fingernail moon…”), and women’s bodies. Basically, the singer-songwriter’s why and wherefore. (That too-thick term: 5 syllables, includes hyphen.) Stinson kept joking about having fired his band, and that’s why he was up there alone. But when a ______ gets on stage, voice, face, and guitar melt into one vibration. Stinson’s strumming moved up and down his guitar neck, hitting at angles, soft to hard, casually, as if it were the most natural occupation for his hand. This warrants a more personal term, particularly at a small spot in the distant town of Santa Monica. Does the song have to be slow? No, but a bunch are, and since you have to sit there with one point of focus, the singer had better be sincere and wise in whatever clothes he wears. —As Brosseau and Uncle Mike proved at McCabe’s.

Brosseau has a song called “Here Comes The Water Now” that’s about change, in a general sense. With a precious lisp, he warns of the oncoming river, suggests taking stock of what ‘baggage’ to pack on your boat, then removing your clothes before sinking in the flood… perhaps emerging from the water in your new form. There’s as much to unload in the song as in a great poem. A sentence description can’t do much justice, but the point of interest is there for the taking. And it’s nice to go somewhere like this in your thoughts through the hands of an entertainer.

Also of note—Brosseau can throw down a sexy lyric without blushing too much: “That sweater that you’re wearing is starting to peel / I could scrape it all off if you’d just sit still” (from “You Don’t Know My Friends”). Pretty hot.

Daiana Feuer