Sunday, July 15, 2007

Josh Rouse "Country Mouse, City House" (2007)

By Andy Gill

First Published in The Independent: 13 July 2007

Few contemporary singer-songwriters are as beholden to the genre's original early-1970s stylings as Josh Rouse, whose 2003 album 1973 made explicit his affection for that era. Country Mouse, City House, like last year's Subtitulo, mines that vein with a soft-rock format that resembles the kind of thoughtful, easy-going country-rock sound arrived at by Rick Nelson.

Period influences seep through as Rouse reflects on his past in songs like " God, Please Let Me Go Back" – an apology dressed in wan threads of banjo and Harrison-ic slide guitar – and "Hollywood Bass Player", where the guitars and clavinet can't quite disguise the melodic echoes of " Big Yellow Taxi" lurking beneath. As with Subtitulo, Rouse's semi-expat lifestyle, between Nashville and Spain, brings a benign, worldly calm to his work that's noticeably at odds with the more aggressive tone with which most American songwriters would deal with the themes of isolation, separation and death in songs such as "Domesticated Lovers" and "Nice To Fit In".



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