In the context of the irony-laden 80s-referencing electro-pop, conceptual rock and deliberately cryptic anti-folk dominating so much of the indie scene, there's something genuinely refreshing about smiley-faced singer/songwriter Rosie Thomas's straightforwardness. She's a telling-it-like-it-is kind of girl – her love songs are about loving people, and her songs about being in New York are about being in New York. These simple tales tumble out in a sweet, lilting soprano over unfettered acoustic fingerpicking and, on These Friends Of Mine, tasteful arrangements of banjo and strings, bolstered considerably by the soft, warm harmonies of pals like Sufjan Stevens, Dave Bazan, Damien Jurado and Jeremy Enigk. This disc (Thomas's first since leaving Sub Pop) is also strengthened by the quiet, mournful air Stevens (who helped record and produce most of the songs) adds to the eternal optimist's occasionally too-sugary approach. His Seven Swans-style tack works better than the slicker tunes done with Denison Witmer.