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Natural Conclusion reviewed

author: mac brock a&c editor

The album balances intimate emotion with sweeping anthems. | Photo credit: Rose Cousins album cover

Rose Cousins’ new album an intimate success.

“Take these arms, these legs, they are broken.”

The opening lyric to Rose Cousins’ 2017 release, Natural Conclusion, marks a big step for the Nova Scotia singer-songwriter. The album centres around a highly personal and captivating self-reflection that gives us a new look into Cousins’ life. The record features her strongest singles to date, though they risk getting lost in a pool of similar sounding slow-jams.

The album starts on a high with lead single “Chosen,” an ode to insecurity and doubt. It’s a slow burn that builds to a very rewarding finale, a structure that Cousins recycles for other singles “Chains” and “Freedom.” The three lead singles share a similar formula of building anthemic pace towards explosive finales with booming choruses that allow Cousins to explore the vast ranges of her vocal riffs. Cousins includes one pattern-breaking rough cut in “Lock and Key,” which presents itself as a Canadiana Bond theme featuring subtle upright bass and toe-tapping bluesy piano.

While the singles demonstrate the best of Cousins’ emotional mastery, there’s a lack of strong B-sides from the rest of the record. Listening to the album top to bottom, a string of slow and soft tunes like “Grace” and “White Flag” blend together as one melancholic mixture. Her iconic charm and poeticism still present themselves in these tracks but lack the dynamic strengths to stand out on the record. Cousins does succeed with the softer formula notably on “Tender is the Man,” which balances her raspy belt with her more intimate tones.

Throughout the album, Cousins explores the balance of power in relationships, the development of her inner strength, and recognizing the chasm between her artistic persona and her private emotional journey. Cousins is a clever songwriter who deftly handles the most intimate sides of her record without crossing the line into melodrama or romanticism. It’s a stunning portrait of one of Canada’s most stunning artists.

The album is a succinct and mature entry to an already stellar discography for Cousins. Her heavy-hitter tracks from Natural Conclusion slate the album as the outstanding Canadiana release of early 2017.

Rose Cousins performs live at the Artesian on 13th on Thursday, March 9. Tickets are on sale now at artesianon13th.ca.

****/5

About Mason Sliva