Album Review

Josh Rouse - 1972

Josh Rouse - 1972

Since his 1998 debut Dressed Up Like Nebraska, Josh Rouse's vigilantly understated music has adorned the backgrounds of TV shows such as "Ed" and "Dawson's Creek", and Cameron Crowe arranged a scene in the film Vanilla Sky as if to showcase Rouse's song "Directions". Nevertheless, his music still seems to reside in the underground rather than the mainstream. After last year's Under Cold Blue Stars consolidated Rouse's glancing references to other artists -- hoarse tenderness reminiscent of Paul Westerberg, quiet craftsmanship not unlike that of latter-day Yo La Tengo, shy romanticism courtesy of the Go-Betweens -- 1972 unpacks a far more overt slew of influences. The album's title refers to the year he was born; its contents reflect what he might've heard on the radio at the time. Like a Beck doppelganger unconcerned with the line between irony and homage, Rouse assimilates the groove of an earlier age. He wafts his falsetto across the butterfly-wing flute and blaxploitation bass line of "James", lightens the sax-enhanced funk of "Comeback (Light Therapy)", and rubs a grainy weariness over the mellow Wurlitzer and vibraphone of "Rise". Rouse sounds quite comfortable in older accouterments. In fact, he moves with noticeably livelier enthusiasm, slyly sexing up the room on "Under Your Charms" and doing a bouncy strut for "Love Vibration". Obviously changed yet still recognizable, Rouse returns from the past with songs that suggest his brighter future.
Artist Josh Rouse
Album 1972
Label Rykodisc
Author Jon M Gilbertson
Other tags Issue #47