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With Love is singer Rosie Thomas' first full-length album in four years, and she's experienced many ups and downs in that time. One of the downs was an injury: Her thyroid broke, causing her to take a hiatus from music.
"It's very humbling," Thomas tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. "It took about two years to get that in order, but what's amazing about that is that in that timeline, I got engaged. I planned a beautiful wedding on my grandfather's farm with a parade. I took a break for the first time in a while, and I just sat and looked at life for the first time. God gave me pause for the first time, and I took it, because I had to. A lot of joy, a lot of sorrow, a lot of hardship, a lot of wisdom gained in that time."
The music on With Love contains more pop than folk, which was more prominent in her earlier work. Thomas says that's a result of her time off.
"The doctor said, 'One day, Rosie, you're just going to wake up and you'll feel better,'" she says. "And it happened. The birds chirped and the sun came out, and I thought, this is my day. ... I had a lot of joy in my heart, and I wanted to share that, sing from that great big heart of mine. And so it caused me to write tunes in a different meter, more hand claps — there was just more joy to be had."
Working on the album with Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine) and David Bazan helped Thomas push herself out of her comfort zone. She says that, although she was known for being fun and lighthearted in her stage banter, she had yet to put that personality across in her recorded music.
"Dave kept saying, 'You're your best asset. You're the best character to play,'" Thomas says. "Sam kept saying, 'Make a record that makes you uncomfortable.' I thought, 'That's peculiar, Sam — life's uncomfortable enough!'
"For the first time, I have a bit more life experience, and I have something to offer back," Thomas says. "It feels like a greater responsibility. It's a wonderful thing."