Josh Rouse is one of those singer-songwriters that people say I would like, but that I never get around to actually listening to. Rouse’s latest disc, Subtitulo, was on too many “Best of ‘06” lists for me to ignore him any longer. While the CD brings to mind John Mayer and Jack Johnson, it is a much more diverse collection of styles and moods than you could find in any of their albums. Rouse’s laid back style adds weight to the catchy opening tunes of Quiet Town and Summertown. It Looks Like Love is a perfect summertime song with its bouncy melody, jazzy instrumentation and chorus of “There goes that melancholy feeln' again/ it looks like love is gonna find a way.”
Rouse’s introspective lyrics shine throughout the album especially on one of my favorites, Jersey Clowns as Rouse sings, “What a shame he's been away/ Cause he's worked so hard to pay those bills/ He's got two kids from his marriage before/ And I wonder what makes him stay/ You know it ain't the first time / She's played him like this a thousand times…I gotta tell him the truth/ But I don’t wanna do it/ Don't wanna bring him down…”
Rouse has a clear, confident voice that works on his lighter and deeper material. His band is more than capable of performing these songs and does so with an ease that complements Rouse’s vocals. While a little more variety would be appreciated since almost every song is an acoustic guitar-based, jazzy mid-tempo number, this is an accessible yet creative album by a thoughtful artist. This is for fans of the aforementioned artists, Elliott Smith and Wico.
3.00 out of 4.00 on the Vin Swanson Scale
Listening to this makes you feel like you are in that movie with the tennis courts, swimming pools, rainy days and homemade wine.