In the spirit of Lisa Germano or Gemma Hayes, Rosie Thomas writes very pleasant little pop songs that are just as stripped-down as they are sweetened up. Not surprisingly, this CD isn't the slightest bit offensive — it would be ideal for a calm, classy dinner party — but it's not particularly challenging either.
Before I heard this album, I was smitten with "Much Farther To Go," a chilling, raw, and beautiful ballad buttressed by gentle strings and banjo. But the rest of the album, with its cutesy lyrics about kites and paper dolls, is light and airy to a fault. To hear about the highlights and low points,
I hate to dis an album with some truly lovely songs, but mostly, the overly simple arrangements on These Friends of Mine suffer from similar faults: drizzly acoustic guitars and lazy rhymes ("And I do not like the clothes I wear / I'd sooner throw them into the air") that fail to captivate. The simplicity also doesn't help Thomas's cover of REM's "The One I Love," which fails to do anything novel to the song aside from slowing down the tempo.
But while the album is weak, there are several songs that do deserve a listen: in particular, the lushly textured title track and "Say Hello," which Thomas co-wrote with her friend and fellow musician Sufjan Stevens. Though simple, "Say Hello" is catchy and captivating, with a great acoustic hook and boy-girl vocals strolling side by side. The song, as well as the entire These Friends of Mine album, is available in the iTunes store.