There's not a lot of flash to a Jim Bryson set or song, but the Ottawa singer/songwriter still packs a wallop. NHis The Occasionals record is the kind of album that draws you back, month after month, and word of the disc has slowly spread. On the phone to friends these days, it's the record most likely to be playing in the background, not overpowering but strong enough to completely distract you occasionally.
That only hints at the casual intensity that builds over the course of Bryson's live sets. With his backing band of bassist Darren Hore, Starling's Ian Lefeuvre on guitar and Peter Vonalthen on bass, Bryson moved through his 30-minute opening set at Ted's Thursday with casual confidence.
Apologizing for not playing any of his new songs -- because his band hadn't heard the material yet -- and muttering cryptically about Vesta Lunch, the singer interspersed his self-deprecating countryish pop tunes with short bursts of Crazy Horse-like noise and the occasional wash of pedal steel.
An informal, shouted-out audience poll -- "A hard one or a soft one?" -- resulted in a detour through mid-80s Nils territory, and before you knew it, a set that seemed like it quite happily could have gone on for hours was finished.
JIM BRYSON, at Ted's Wrecking Yard, October 26. Tickets: $9. Attendance: 140. Rating: NNNN