Cousins’ brave journey in life and song

Justin Brake
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P.E.I. songwriter Rose Cousins will perform Thursday night at The Ship in St. John’s. — Submitted photo

It’s been almost two years since Rose Cousins released her introspective and emotional sophomore album “The Send Off,” a collection of songs that lay bare the P.E.I. songwriter’s tender-hearted pursuit of truths related to love, longing and loss.

Fresh out of the studio from recording material for her new record, due out early next year, the burgeoning musician is returning to St. John’s for a performance at The Ship Pub Thursday.

Cousins’ early success, highlighted with ECMA, Nova Scotia and a P.E.I. music awards, is the result of her songwriting; she braves her own vulnerability with an admirable degree of honesty.

“We’re constantly trying to figure stuff out and I think you can either choose to ask questions or choose to accept things,” she says, en route to her performance at the Lunenberg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia last week.

“I think I definitely am someone who’s constantly trying to figure things out. Personally trying to figure other people out in accordance to myself.”

Cousins’ honesty is accentuated by her honeyed and at times supplicatory tone and soulful melodies, all of which coalesce into a vocal and musical quality that commands attention.

Songs like “Maybe I Knew” and “The Dancers” explore the complexities of self-love, romantic love, the liberation of letting go and the difficulty doing it.

“Other people’s music is therapeutic and I think writing my own music is cathartic, and it’s part of the journey of me figuring out my own stuff,” she explains. “When you’re happy you don’t feel like you have to figure anything out. So I tend toward maybe the more melancholy stuff because those are the things that I think about, that I am challenged by and want to know more about.”

Regarding each album as a different chapter of her life, Cousins says, “The Send Off,” though its songs depict a pursuit of seemingly elusive truths, is really about “letting go”.

“The (title) song is about death, and who doesn’t have questions about death?” she says. “I wrote a lullaby for my niece on the record, too, and kids stimulate you in a completely different way where you’re just like, ‘What the hell am I doing complaining about all these things (when) everything can be so simple?’”

Some of the new record’s songs, she says, reveal evolving perspectives as she has overcome past grievances.

“You step back from the painting and you can see it a little bit better. You can see more things in it and why certain decisions were made,” she says.

“I feel like I might have come to some answers, not on fixed things but (those) where I have had to accept certain things in order to find my own resolution on them.

“I think you kind of have to go through a dark period, coming up to the peak of a challenge, and say, ‘I don’t know if I can keep it in my life this way anymore.’”

“It’s all (about) how much work you’re doing on yourself almost, and I think that’s something I believe in. My path has definitely not been smooth. I read some psychology books, but it doesn’t matter how much you read you still dive head first into things that smash you in the head.”

Cousins’ forthcoming album is being produced by Josh Ritter,  bassist Zack Hickman and will feature most members of Ritter’s backing Royal City Band. Also onboard are Sean Staples, Billy Beard and Dinty Child, all members of Boston roots supergroup Session Americana.

“It’s basically this amazing group of people that play so many different instruments and really value songwriting,” she says, an air of excitement in her voice.

“When we all get together and make music at the same time … it’s this magical thing that happens. So the record is as much about this chapter in my life, but really about who I made the record with, too.”

Cousins and notable guest Tanya Davis (also from P.E.I. via Halifax) perform at The Ship Thursday at 9 p.m. Advance tickets ($15) are available at O’Brien’s Music, Fred’s Record and The Ship.

Admission is $20 at the door.

For more information visit www.milestonepromotions.com.

Organizations: Halifax

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Boston

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