In a world where Jewel is considered a poet, where does a talented singer/songwriter like Josh Rouse fit in? From the sounds of his beautiful and wistful new album, Home, Rouse fits in nicely alongside a handful of pop music’s talented yet under appreciated songwriters such as Ron Sexsmith, Ryan Adams (Whiskeytown) and Aimee Mann.
Moving beyond the Americana-flavor of his critically-acclaimed debut Dressed Up Like Nebraska, Rouse spices up Home with horn and string sections, vibes and organ, giving the album a ‘60s British pop/Motown feel. A native of Nebraska, Rouse spent much of his life moving around the country. This explains the sense of restlessness and desolation that lurks below the surface of his songs. The beauty of Rouse’s songs isn’t their memorable melodies (which he has plenty of), it’s the sparseness of his arrangements and the simple honesty of his lyrics. Songs like the infectious “Directions” or the grooving “Marvin Gaye” breath with a sense of soul and emotion that comes from knowing that often it’s the words not spoken or the notes not played that carry the most weight.
Rouse recorded Home in his new home of Nashville, Tennessee where he was joined by an impressive list of musicians, including Cowboy Junkies tour alumnus David Henry, who also engineered R.E.M.‘s Up, on bass and cello, Ned Henry on violin, and Steve Allen on Wurlitzer. Guitarist Will Kimbrough and members of the Nashville collective Lambchop also appear as does noted bass player (Ron Sexsmith, Matthew Sweet) and producer/engineer (Yo La Tengo) Brad Jones.