|Grade: A- | Genre:
Pop / Alt-Country
Summary: Rouse’s Nashville just edges out his prior greatest achievement Under Cold Blue Stars. He has become a highly skilled songwriter, very at ease in his own skin and quite deft in utilizing his excess talents. It is time for him to spill out into the mainstream because this is just too good for him to be kept under wraps any longer.
Josh Rouse initially nudged my attention through the inclusion of his track “Directions” on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack. Cameron Crowe is notorious for his impeccable taste in music so taking a chance on this unknown was virtually risk free. Since that time, Rouse has continued to hone his infectious pop flavored melodies and has built a strong yet contained following. Nashville continues his evolution as an artist. Rouse adds just a touch of twang to his usual pop to give us glances at alt-country with layers of classic folk (think Bob Dylan sitting down to lunch with Neil Young).
He gave us a similar spin with his 2003 release 1972 which his songs seemed filtered through a time warp, beckoning the days of polyester suits and glittering disco balls. Somehow, he managed to pull it off and the same can be said of Nashville. Rouse is showing off the versatility of his reach dabbling between these thematic works.
This is a solid effort throughout and there really aren’t any tracks that can be overlooked here. “It’s the Nighttime” is a romantic ballad that Jackson Browne would have loved to have called his own. “My Love is Gone” is that lump in your throat hatched from a painful breakup. This is a relationship disk that reverberates through the emotions that are tied to unearthing desire, exploring a love that doesn’t belong to you and finding that shred of light piercing from a beauty’s coquettish smile. There isn’t a hint of a tired love song, steeped in cliche, among these. Emotion like this can’t be faked.
As consistent as Rouse’s quality is, this disk would be worth every penny if it only included two tracks: the syrupy “Carolina” and “Why Won’t You Tell Me What.” “Carolina” is close to the perfect pop song. It slips in like a track gathered off the Jayhawks’ Tomorrow the Green Grass then proceeds to carry this airy melody throughout that recalls the best of Whiskeytown. The melding of influences bolstering Rouse’s unique blend of pop is irresistible and would prove addictive radio candy if someone is sharp enough to figure out where it belongs. “Why Won’t You Tell Me What” is deep brewed New Orleans Blues thick in its soul and rough guttural groove. If Miles Davis had taken a different turn and devoted himself to the blues, this is the sound that would have piped through him. This is the personification of cool.
Rouse’s Nashville just edges out his prior greatest achievement Under Cold Blue Stars. He has become a highly skilled songwriter, very at ease in his own skin and quite deft in utilizing his excess talents. It is time for him to spill out into the mainstream because this is just too good for him to be kept under wraps any longer.
For more music critiques by this reviewer, please visit PM Media Review. Also be sure to check out Rouse’s “My Love has Gone” along with the best cutting edge music on Internet radio featured on Live365′s Innovative Radio.