We Have Made a Spark
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ROSE COUSINS - WE HAVE MADE A SPARK (LIMITED EDITION/BONUS TRACKS) - CD
Canadian singer/songwriter Rose Cousins has an easy, beautifully textured voice and an achingly candid way with a lyric. Both are on full display on One Way, our Pick of the Week and a luminous ballad from her haunting new album, We Have Made a Spark. --Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
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The title "We Have Made A Spark" is also a line found in track 8. The title speaks to that moment of contact between people that is imbued with an intrigue of intimacy. The title also speaks to something "positive" ("sparks were flying" sounds like good times to me), and that is where the irony begins. Indeed, the irony is reinforced by how track 8's lyrics are thematically similar but affectively different from the rest of the LP's narrative preoccupations. In one fashion or another, "contact" is the starting point for many of the LP's songs. Track 8 speaks to Ms. Cousins' deep satisfaction and need for making intimate contact, and much of the rest of the LP speaks to the consequences of such an event: That is, life after the sparks die down. Regarding the latter, things haven't exactly worked out. A quick survey of selected song topics bears this out: Barriers arise (track 2); one person zigs while the other zags (track 3); break-ups become necessary, but hesitation is having its day (track 6); and two people are in irreconcilably different places in life (track 10). Reviews and reactions to this wonderful LP swirl with words like "lonely", "heartbreak", "sad", etc. That then begs the question: What's up with that title then?
I've harmonized the LP title with its seemingly incongruent content by returning to what's "implicit" in this work. Ms. Cousins is fundamentally an optimist and an idealist and this LP's expressions are forever bound to both. The LP's narrative is emotionally skewed BUT it never goes over the cliff. That is to say that it's frustrated without being cynical, forlorn without being consumed with self-pity,and disappointed without being bitter. It is a chronicle of let downs resulting from having established an intimate connection but it never lets go of the hope that establishing and experiencing such a connection is anything other than necessary and full of promise. It's an impulse in search of its ideal and the ideal's hunger can only be sated with discovering an affirming mutuality.
I truly admire and am moved by Ms. Cousins' musicianship, lyrical perspective, and undeniable warmth of humanity. I can't help, however, but notice that she lacks that special something that sets her apart in what is, admittedly, a remarkable time for pop music and one populated with an endless number of equally remarkable voices and visionaries. That's a long sentence to establish a small and unfair averment on my part and one that recalls the G. Lightbody (Snow Patrol) lyrics, "Please don't let this turn into something it's not/I can only give you everything I've got". 'We Have Made A Spark' is a gracious thing and one that I owe Ms. Cousins my deeply felt gradituded.