Simultaneously dark and airy, T. Thomason’s “King of Spades Part II” blows in like an end of summer wind: warm and inviting but tinged with sadness. With a Glass Animals-like quality, it beautifully captures the internal battles that are faced in the bitter wake of failed relationships. Low spaces to breathe and reflect intermingle with crashing highs that leave you wanting more. Soft and powerful, it’s compelling in an unassuming sort of way.

This Part II takes Thomason’s original “King of Spades” a step further by incorporating fellow Canadian singer-songwriter, Rose Cousins, along with a new verse and a collection of striking harmonies. Cousin’s soft and poetic voice compliments the arrangement beautifully as she weaves in and out of the verses. Both with subdued vocal power that is masterfully controlled, Thomason’s strikingly vulnerable lyrics are left to shine.

“I’m always digging my own grave/you better know before you jump in with me/No command, I misbehave/no idea how to play this controlled anxiety”

This beginning is full of admissions and reluctant admonishments. Carefully placed pauses lend a tone of emotional weariness. He admits that there are difficulties he cannot control, but acknowledgement of this lack of control does not make them disappear. There is an undeniable sense of warning, albeit one that is steeped in sincerity and sprinkled with regret. It’s as if you’re being held gently at arms-length, urged not to come any closer.

“I can’t give the simple life/so don’t you go asking”

With this line, the tone begins to shift. The accusing finger aimed at himself suddenly turns, pointing outwards. While he will admit what he cannot do, he in return demands that you not try and change him. This blend of vulnerability and strength is deliciously powerful. It can be incredibly difficult to find the balance between lyrical power and delicacy without coming off corny, but Thomason does so seamlessly.

“I want you to want but you can’t need/you can’t need me”

Each time the chorus is repeated, this line releases a burst of emotion and intensity as the music rises. It may be put simply, but this simplicity is such a large part of its allurement. With a cry, the individual pain of the two voices bleed together as they rise to a crescendo. The combination of suffering and confusion that bursts forth with each delivery is nearly palpable.

Repeated one final time, the song begins to taper. This time is different, though. The line is delivered like a long-held breath that is finally released. The confusion and suffering dissipate, to be replaced by bitter regret of the past and apprehension for what is to come.

Leaving much like it came, the vocals fade and the final notes slowly flicker out. Thomason tells an achingly familiar story about pain and regret, vulnerability and acceptance. Though not the first, and most certainly not the last song about failed relationships, “King of Spades Part II” has rightfully earned itself a spot among the others.