There is nothing better than a story well-told.
The best musicians in the genre called folk — much larger than Greenwich Village or a coffeehouse could hold — tell their stories by using tools beyond words. Instrumentation, vocal style and a well-chosen phrase play as much of a role.
Grayson Capps — a New Orleans-bred guitarist perhaps best known for his work on the film A Love Song for Bobby Long, based on a novel by his father — imbues a sense of place in his songs without even saying a word. An acoustic guitar and a violin are a simple but evocative backdrop on Songbones, an album from a 2002 studio session.
Then there’s Capps’ raspy, deep vocals — giving off a sense of dread and mourning at times, regret others. Though many of these songs would see a more fleshed-out existence on two other albums — If You Knew My Mind and Wail & Ride — here a minimalist approach works very well. Capps’ brilliant lyrics and evocative voice step to the fore on “Washboard Lisa” and “Graveyard”, both of which are among the best on this album.