Album Review

Josh Rouse - Country Mouse, City House

Josh Rouse - Country Mouse, City House

Josh Rouse began his musical career by moving from Nebraska to Nashville. Then he moved from Nashville to Spain, commemorating the change with a farewell album to one place (2005's Nashville) and a postcard album from the other (2006's Subtitulo). Yet for all this wanderlust and, of course, the usual touring-and-recording itinerary of a working singer-songwriter, his warm, raspy voice speaks to and of home and hearth. On his seventh album, Rouse continues to decorate the home interior with items from the 1970s, a decade he views with rather less nostalgia than many of his colleagues but with more sincere love than Beck, the only other artist who draws upon that time as much and as skillfully as he does. Rouse's ardor manifests itself through attention to detail: the eerie George Harrison guitar of "God, Please Let Me Go Back", the blase bounce of "Hollywood Bass Player", the pedal steel that takes the lullaby of "Sweetie" just to the cusp of AOR country-rock. However, Country Mouse, City House folds Rouse's influences -- early Steely Dan and punchy Philly horn sections ("Italian Dry Ice"), pop-epic Elton John ("Nice To Fit In"), gently swelling organ fills ("London Bridges") -- into his own graceful style. It's also an easy style, or one that he makes sound easy. His body travels everywhere and his music looks to the past for guidance, but his heart waits by the welcome mat, and his artistry remains in the present moment.