After a few stressful days, I was looking for music to soothe my soul. I found it in The Leaving, the sophomore release from Melbourne singer-songwriter Rough River.

Her name suggests a performer much tougher than she appears to be. Her voice is rich and smooth, comforting, and her songs show a vulnerability that’s so endearing. The presser calls Rough River a folk-alternative country performer, a description which goes some way towards explaining the diversity of this release. “Sea Air and City Lights” has an ethereal, mystical quality, thanks to its gentle instrumentation and Rough River’s angelic voice. “Band of String” has an unashamedly old-school country vibe, and those country roots are also explored in a sublime cover of “Tennessee Waltz.” While elements of gospel can be heard in the album’s closing track “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Whatever sound she’s exploring, there’s a sadness and longing that ties the tracks together. Songs like “What You Did,” “Sweet Saccharin,” and “We All Want” pack a real emotional punch, with simple melodies that let the lyrics shine through.

The Leaving is such a special album. It shows a performer coming into her own and being unafraid to show herself. Every song is wonderful in its own right, but together they are breathtaking.

The Leaving hits stores on February 17.

Image used with permission from Dusky Tracks