Gearan has long been a roots-guitar MVP in the Boston area, but he’s also a talented songwriter and singer. The latter is no surprise to the folks who’ve been packing his Monday-night residency at Toad for years — though those shows are often dominated by his eclectic repertoire of cover tunes. This album, his second, brings his lyric, composing, and vocal skills to the fore, framing them in arrangements dominated by his acoustic guitar and dobro. The playing is spare and exquisite, Gearan supported by fellow journeymen including Steve Sadler on guitars, banjo, mandolin, and accordion, Sean Staples on mandolin, and Jim Fitting (the Coots, Treat Her Right) on harmonica. His “Just like Diamonds” and “Flicker” gleam with the hope of joy and aspiration, and the title track is about finding comfort in love. “Sweet Dreams Marlene,” on which Fitting trades sweet lines with Gearan’s vocal phrases, has a quirky sensibility that could appeal to fans of early Tom Waits. There’s just enough of dusty Southern back roads — and references to down-home pleasures like greens and cornbread — in Gearan’s voice and writing to give everything here the flavor of rural authenticity.
Tim Gearan | Toad, 1912 Mass Ave, Cambridge | Feb 6 | 617.497.4950