French Quarter

S/T
(Gilgongo Records)

One problem with the popular singer-songwriter genre is an egocentric focus on storytelling elements that feel a bit too sophisticated. Unfortunately, this lack of connection with the listener normally equals a disposable product rather than a timeless work of art. French Quarter main man Stephen Steinbrink — who brings a sad sincerity missing from acoustic guitar-wielding dudes and dudettes who are solely about the performance chutzpah — has never penned an emotionally distant tune. A foolproof example is FQ's latest full-length CD and vinyl release, S/T, which is the audio equivalent of somebody curling up with a super-soft, childhood fleece blankie hand-woven by Grandma. The often simple, sometimes sad, and always thought-provoking 10-track effort showcases Steinbrink at his captivating best. "In June" features Steinbrink with overdubbed vocals layered on top of a simple acoustic guitar chord and accompanying piano, while the catchy and uplifting "Build Fires" closes the album with engaging proclamations such as, "Our wills and our ways/Are two very different things/If there's a place I wouldn't show my face/It's the place where I was born." This is comfort food for the fractured or pensive soul.

 
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