Technology has created an age of isolation, where we are tethered to other humans by our connections to screens of cell phones and computers, Rose Cousins uses Bravado to take a look at love and romance in this complicated landscape. Instead of becoming more connected to each other, modern technology may be doing just the opposite. Looking at this brave, new world Cousins questions the basic assumptions, “It feels like we’re not connecting in person as much as we used to and that we may be the loneliest we’ve ever been. … I’ve been thinking about how we must be getting close to a breaking point.”
Pert and perky, ‘The Benefits Of Being Alone’, opens on piano, bass and drums while outlining a litany of events done solo. Modern life has untethered us from any need for other people. Time passes without any sense of human connection. Horns add to the power of this piece as Cousins questions the effects of this reality, “If I don’t end up with anyone could be six days to find my body gone, but think of all the space I get to roam.”
Building up from that small voice, growing stronger with every word, Bravado, deals with the complex world where her bravado does all the things Cousins isn’t up to doing. Conquering her fears and building her strength as keys mimicking horns swell, it feels as if we are all living in a world where we fake it ‘til we make it. The synthesized string-driven sounds of ‘The Fraud’. questioning her reality, “Deep in the night you will find me happiest when I’m alone, and it may be that’s all that I need, it could be that’s all that I know.”
Part of Cousins’ power as an artist lies in her ability to look at both sides of such a tricky time emotionally. The second half of this album suggests there is a pathway to another reality based on the notion of a shared reality. ‘The Return (Love Comes Back)’ acknowledges everything that has gone before, “I wish my heart was a hammer. I’d put you back together, but it’s a heart just like yours.” With it’s refrain, “And love comes back,” we can see another way through. In that moment we are delivered, able to regain a power that breeds connection.
Closing the album with ‘The Reprise (The Benefits Of Being Alone)’, the powerful woman of the opening has been replaced by one a bit more contrite, yet the final snippet suggests something else, “it’s just emotion” Rose Cousins sings almost reprising the massive moving ending of ‘The Return (Love Comes Back)’. With Bravado Rose Cousins has shown herself a fine observer of a world spinning out of whack and suggesting that there may still be a way back to a world of connection.