Rosie Thomas

Only with Laughter Can You Win (Sub Pop)

On her stunner of a second album, Rosie Thomas again shows that gestures needn't be grand to be powerful. In some ways, her indie-folk sound has a lot in common with close pal, periodic collaborator, and fellow Seattle-ite Damien Jurado's: fragile acoustic guitars and piano, gently tapped drums, and whispers of violin, cello, organ, and glockenspiel fashioned into arrangements as modest as Quaker living. But whereas Jurado, Carver-like, seeks truths by telling the stories of others, Thomas quietly reveals her own self-doubts, foibles, and spiritual uncertainties while searching for elusive answers. "How am I to live this life when the only certainty is that death is waiting for me at the end?" she wonders in "Tell Me How" with a sweetly pining falsetto that's comparable to Joni Mitchell. "Loneliness follows me around/Loneliness drags me down," she confesses on the achingly exquisite "Crazy." Yet her sanguine faith is present as well, both in the possibility of true love ("Let Myself Fall," "All My Life") and the idea that tomorrow just might be better than today ("Gradually"). Let Rosie break your heart, then put it back togetherr again.

 
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