Another gentle meander through the muse of Josh Rouse. Laidback and effortless...
Rob Crossan 2007
From his adapted home country of Spain, US-born Rouse has delivered a series of unassuming albums over the last few years that present a pool side world of slow sun tans, honey rich organs and mellifluous compositions that sound like they were created in a pristine white beach house, perhaps while Jack Johnson was out surfing for the afternoon. But while Johnson’s music can feel slightly skuzzy round the edges, Rouse possesses much more of a smooth pine finish - his songs pose on the balcony rather than get sand in between their toes on the beach. Think classically crafted 70’s singer songwriter such as James Taylor, except with Taylor’s regular slips into cornball replaced with Rouse’ immaculate sloe gins on the veranda.
There’s no radical reworking of the formula (come on, did you really expect him to go bhangra?) on this, his seventh album. Him, and his all-Spanish backing group have songs here that convey nothing of their homeland but at least never outstay their welcome. On tracks such as ‘'Domesticated Lovers'’, Rouse at least seems to have a slightly barbed idea of his listenership with the lyrics ‘they go to a restaurant, they don’t talk, about the things that happened that day, or the new hairdo she’s got’. It’s all done so gently though, that any Costello-esque menace in the lyrics is far too easily smothered by the duvet soft music.
Rouse isn’t attempting anything new, and he’s brave enough to admit it. Pop music adage number 4,283 states that if you’re going to be unchallenging then at least make sure what you’re making is enjoyable. It’s a maxim that Rouse seems only too aware of. This is inessential, yet effortlessly pretty music.