Rosie Thomas has once again succeeded in producing the most accessible record ever to bear the SubPop insignia. The Seattle-based singer/songwriter's 2002 and 2003 releases for the label were studies in introspective D.I.Y. simplicity, relying on the artists' fragile but expressive voice multi-tracked over winsome pianos, guitars, and xylophones. On her third offering, the equally introspective If Songs Could Be Held, Thomas has crafted a set of songs that wouldn't sound out of place spilling from the ceiling of an extremely popular coffeehouse chain. Armed with amorous string sections, lazy electric piano, and acoustic guitar, If Songs Could Be Held is like a rainy summer afternoon in a bottle. Thomas' voice can be a thing of wonder, especially when she allows it to navigate a melody rather than recite it -- both the austere "Clear as a Bell" and the captivating "Pretty Dress" are peerless examples. While her lyrics are relentless in their wistful self-absorption and romantic second-guessing, the role of the confessional singer/songwriter is aptly fulfilled, resulting in a lovely collection of Sunday morning melancholy that's as gentle as it is weary.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger