After a four-year record-making hiatus, folk singer Rosie Thomas returns to the studio with her effortless, laid-back melodies—and with plenty of creative fodder for these 10 new songs. With Love (Sing-A-Long Records) follows a bittersweet two years in which Thomas wrestled with an anxiety-producing thyroid disorder and was married. She says she "woke up one morning, and the sun shined in the window, and … the world felt like it was back on my side again." Here, she brings more unfailing honesty than ever and a versatility that proves this delicate vocalist can belt it out when warranted.

Lovely acoustic piano and guitar lines remain Thomas's go-to sound, but on With Love, she also experiments with richer, more soulful sounds on tracks like "Two Worlds Collide" and "Back to Being Friends." A more diverse repertoire gives her the opportunity to showcase her improvisational skills and a stronger side to her tender vocals. Rarely does one hear an artist perform quite so effortlessly; Thomas seems to live comfortably within her songs. Friends Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) contribute their production and vocal talents, again showcasing the power of collaboration seen on Thomas's 2006 album, These Friends of Mine.

Like folk friend (and sometime collaborator) Sufjan Stevens, Thomas's Christian beliefs are organic to her songwriting. Throughout these musings on romantic, friendly, and familial love, its source is clear. As Thomas considers the mysteries of love, she seems content despite frustration at its comings and goings. Even while bemoaning the loneliness of waiting "your whole life for someone to finally take a chance on you," she acknowledges, "If it's all about timing, then I'm right where I should be." The album explores pure love through heartbreaks and missteps ("Two Worlds Collide"), through meaningful friendships ("2 Birds"), and through beauty and wonder ("Really Long Year"). With Love is a journey for the listener and a celebration for Thomas, who has learned that while sometimes it feels that love exists inside a tricky concoction of risk and trust, its purest and most perfect form still lives in a place devoid of fear.

Kristin Garrett is a CT music critic and works in development at Virginia Opera.

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