Lea Thomas’ album “Cosmos Forever” unfurls in a moment of exquisitely gentle suggestion: “Let’s go for a walk/Don’t talk.” Hers is a voice that is at peace with itself, that is trusting of its own ability to convey the truths of her experience and her personal philosophy, and to express her enduring love for the natural world. These truths, inspired by growing up on Maui, are embroidered with elegantly simple imagery. Fragments and fine details of a myriad different landscapes–a spray of leaves, a winding river, a bracing trade wind–seem to weave themselves together into a blanket of sound that is warm and wholly enveloping.

 For the recording, Thomas, her co-producer John Thayer (YAI, Ezra Feinberg, Arp), and three other bandmates traveled to a house at the end of a mountain road in the woods. There, in a hushed landscape, they discovered a peaceful respite over the course of about a week, during which something benevolent and clear-eyed had enough time to be born. 

There is a lot of space to move around in these compositions, which lightly sidestep the trappings of rigid structure. They’re more like expansive fields of wildflowers rather than crafted bouquets–their nature remains ephemeral, but it is also cyclical, which suggests something of the eternal, or of timelessness. 

The Hudson Valley-based songwriter’s body of work could be regarded as cyclical as well. Her 2021 album “Mirrors to the Sun” is more of a pop-oriented songwriting endeavor; 2019’s “Blue of Distance” is something more ephemeral, open-ended, and hushed; 2017’s “Want for Nothing” is filled with straightforward, breezy, and engaging hooks. This oscillation of approach is something that Thomas says has come naturally to her over the years, threading its way through each of her endeavors. 

Even if the listener finds themselves immersed in “Cosmos Forever” without the context of her earlier material, however, this is an album that shines on its own, warmly rewarding deeper and repeated listening with a sense of tranquility and gentle assurance. Lushness without drama, honesty without sharpness–rare and fine qualities that suffuse every song. Like a friendly hand resting on the shoulder, this music encourages the listener to become more at ease with the unanswered questions they might contain within themselves. It suggests that to forgive oneself for being uncertain, to allow oneself to experience pure and simple goodness, is to feel more at home in the world, and to better feel the embrace of the all-encompassing universe itself. 

- Jen Powers