Artist: Rose Cousins
Album: Natural Conclusion
Label: Old Farm Pony Records
Release Date: 02/03/2017
As quiet and somber as a funeral, but also elegant and profoundly moving, Natural Conclusion— produced with loving care by Joe Henry– is a procession of songs dressed in black with bowed heads.
Dark, seductive melodies ebb and flow, mostly carried by soft, gentle instrumentation. Murmurs of smooth, rolling percussion are faintly heard. Subtle guitar work tacks on pretty fabric of muted colors to a rather fragile framework. Artfully-rendered piano, lush and powerful one minute, delicate and wounded the next on songs like “Tender is the Man,” “White Flag” and “Like Trees” always makes its presence felt. This is the vehicle that delivers Rose Cousins’ captivating vocals, so assured and eloquent, from place to place like a limousine. This is lonely music for shuttered rooms and sober thoughts, with a graceful poetry reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, but more intimate and exposed.
Those looking for a little levity, something catchy or loud, with some fire in the belly, should move along. You won’t find it here, although “Lock and Key” is a rather smoky and alluring cabaret. Seemingly laden by weighty emotions, the brushed, slow-building “Chosen” does eventually grow and flower, while the thick, bluesy “Chains” has a witchy atmosphere and a flowing topography of heavier rock, as Cousins warns, “Black is the devil/dark is the night/stealing every shine of light.”
For all its beautiful depth and meticulous songcraft, this successor to 2012’s acclaimed We Have Made a Spark must have forgotten to pay its electric bill.