Tom Brosseau has quietly released several bare-bones folk albums over the last four years, but if you haven't heard of him, that's okay.

Tom Brosseau has quietly released several bare-bones folk albums over the last four years, but if you haven't heard of him, that's okay. "Empty Houses" is sort of a "best of" in regards to those four albums, but there aren't any "hits" here by any means. Brosseau's charm is in his minimalism, as he prefers the stripped-down feel of Ryan Adam's "Heartbreaker," most of Leonard Cohen's early work and Devendra Banhart's catalog.

The songs culled for "Empty Houses" are a reflection of the softer side of masculinity; a soul-baring affair that takes listeners deep into his world, which is riddled with abstractions. Complimenting him on a few cuts is Cindy Wasserman. They sound rather distant from one another, but that's probably the point. Ultimately the title suggests what most of these songs echo: loss, confusion and desolation.

What seems to be the selling point here, much like "Heartbreaker," is truly honest songwriting; the raw, shiver-inducing portrait we rarely get to see. -- Michael D. Ayers