On their last album, ​Joey, Maine-bred, Brooklyn-based alternative folk songwriter Tica Douglas turned inward to explore their own identity. The result is a touching, deeply personal account of youthful uncertainty, made more acute by Douglas’ own status as a gender outlier (the songwriter is non-binary, meaning they do not identify with one gender category). This internal examination must have culminated in a greater sense of inner peace, as the focus on Douglas’ new record, ​Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help and Protect Us​, turns outward to deal with vaguer, more existential themes. Since the release of ​Joey, Douglas has been pursuing a Master's degree in divinity. This exploration of mysticism, in addition to a greater level of self-acceptance and understanding, leads the songwriter to ask bigger questions on this record.

Track after track, Douglas’ soft vocals layer over drawn-out, melancholy acoustic riffs that audibly articulate quiet exasperation and emotional exhaustion. On “I Won’t Lie,” Douglas sings, “I cry for little things I can’t explain / and cry for the big things I can’t change.” If anything, this album is about the hard, universal lessons we learn as we grow up: that sometimes you’re sad for no discernible reason; that sometimes things don’t work out even though they seem perfect on paper; that suffering comes from a lack of acceptance of life’s uncertainty.

Douglas understands that young adulthood essentially feels like drowning in indecision. It’s hard to discern whether life’s imperfections are beautiful in their realness or ugly in their immovable inevitability, or to make a choice when to take one road is ultimately a rejection of the other. It’s all enough to make any of one of us feel oppressively alone, a feeling that surely resonates enough with Douglas that they feel compelled to remind us of its universality. On “Lost/Left Behind,” they sing, “You find other lost things that will keep you company.” ​Our Lady Star of the Sea reminds us that to feel lost isn’t an indication of personal failure, but rather totally normal collateral damage for coming of age in the 21st century.

Tica Douglas’ Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help and Protect Us​ drops on Team Love Records on May 5. They’ll play an album release show at Alphaville in Brooklyn on May 11.