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Only With Laughter Can You Win
Artist: Rosie Thomas 
Label: Subpop
Length: 11 tracks

One of the most striking of last year’s debut releases was When We Were Small from a virtually unheard of singer / songwriter named Rosie Thomas. On that album, she proved her value as a songwriter and showcased one of the most soothing, beautiful voices in music.

Only With Laughter Can You Win is the follow up to that album. This album finds Thomas stretching herself a bit musically. This is both good and bad. On one hand, the direction this album leads gives the idea that the next Rosie Thomas release will be an amazing piece of work. At the same time, though, this album leaves seasoned fans (as seasoned as a fan can get in less than two years) longing a bit for the cohesiveness that When We Were Small possessed.

To be sure, this release has plenty of top-notch songs. “I Play Music” and “Tell Me How” are more upbeat and catchy than previous Rosie Thomas songs, but in a way that works. “You and Me” could be the wedding song of choice for couples looking to tie the knot. The simple piano instrumentation gives Thomas a chance to let her gorgeous voice shine through.

The lyrics on Only With Laughter Can You Win are not afraid to drift toward spiritual things. The emphasis on every day life that When Were Small possessed is still present as well. In all, Rosie Thomas seems to have grown as a songwriter by letting her faith naturally work its way into her music.

It is the closing track “Dialogue” that makes the mark as the album’s best song. Hearkening back to the sound of “Bicycle Tricycle” from When We Were Small, but perhaps even softer, the atmosphere of the song sets an incredibly peaceful mood as Thomas asks, “Where do they go? Nobody knows.”

As a whole Only With Laughter Can You Win may be a small step down from When We Were Small, but Rosie Thomas is definitely on the right course and this album further cements her as one of the best singer / songwriters to be found.

Trae Cadenhead 11/9/2003

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Trae Cadenhead is a student at Union University. He is pursuing a Digital Media Studies major with a Film Studies minor and plans to become involved in film making following school. Trae also has an enormous interest in music. Along with writing for the Tollbooth, Trae maintains Loconotion.net, a digital archive of his thoughts on music and movies as well as a gallery of the art and video work he is doing.
 
 
 
   
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