Seattle’s Rosie Thomas had a good thing going with last year’s Sub Pop debut When We Were Small, and she’s smart enough not to mess with it here. Only With Laughter Can You Win is filled with the same hushed, dreamlike tones as her debut and Thomas still has that same wistfully beautiful voice that can make you fall in love with her from a distance.
Production values owe far more to the ’70s folk movement than anything in the past decade, though this is a version of the ’70s in soft-focus and draped with a gauzy layer of room noise and atmospheric touches.
If there’s a weakness here, it lies in Thomas’ choice to write virtually all the songs in the first person. It’s an effective choice in small doses but one that takes away from the universality that was a great strength of her first disc. That’s really a fairly minor issue however, as the writing is still very strong and the performances possess a hushed beauty entirely Thomas’ own.
Written by Chris Brown.