ROSE COUSINS plays the Rivoli on May 3. See listing. Rating: NNNNN
There is not a lyric, note or instrument out of place on the dark third album by East Coast folk-pop singer/songwriter Rose Cousins. Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign and recorded in Boston with a large group of collaborators, the 11 songs showcase Halifax-based Cousins at the top of her game.
Throughout, she skilfully turns relationship sorrow into stirring art, and distills the complexity of fraught relationships into something true and relatable. In The Shell, she addresses an uncommunicative partner who is “covered in the shell you grew,” someone she’s no longer sure wants her around. In the orchestral piano ballad Go First, she asks her lover to exit the relationship first, knowing it’s going to hurt either way.
The album’s tone is stark and melancholy, recalling the vulnerability of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me, though countrier numbers like If I Should Fall Behind, a duet with Mark Erelli, brings out her charming Dollyesque twang. Moving stuff worthy of accolades and admiration.
Top track: This Light