Though it doesn't happen often enough, a solid belly laugh can warm an audience up to all of a singer's moods. It takes a certain balance of humility, confidence, and playfulness, and Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy grows into that on Colin Meloy Sings Live!, recorded at eight solo acoustic shows in 2006. Without a full band around him, Meloy projects his voice and lets his guitar sparkle and chime, doing greater justice to his ear for folk-y essentials. Clear away the harmonies, drums, and keys, and "On The Bus Mall" gets new life as an aching epic. Slyer and more pop-smart than he seemed at first, Meloy finesses bits of The Smiths, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and R.E.M. tunes into his own. As at Decemberists shows, he self-deprecates with comic awkwardness, especially when he explains he's going for a "campfire" feel and welcomes a cry of "Kumbaya!" from the audience. He also shares the few fragmented lines from "the worst song I ever wrote," a jaunty howler called "Dracula's Daughter."