Josh Rouse, the Nebraska-born singer/songwriter is no longer based in Nashville, as he has been for years. He's now living in Spain. So just as his last album commemorated the year of his birth, 1972, the new album is titled Nashville to pay tribute to his erstwhile home.
Not that the new album has a specifically Nashville-themed sound. Actually, Rouse has taken a few of the musical ideas he experimented with on 1972 and incorporated them into his traditional style to make an extremely strong statement of musical priciples.
Rouse's lyrics do a fine job vividly depicting the generally unhappy souls populating his Nashville. There's the man who sleeps with the TV on to help keep the loneliness at bay in "My Love Has Gone," or the girl in "Carolina" who yearns to leave
her Tennessee home and live in California in a mansion by the sea, and who might just get her wish. And the teen angst song "Middle School Frown" reads like a Cameron Crowe movie.
Rouse's musical approach delightfully retains some of the retro flavor of 1972. A song called "Sad Eyes" starts with Rouse and a solo piano singing about an unhappy, recently-divorced woman. Halfway through, it kicks into a full band with a string arrangement that lead one to imagine Rouse as a modern, midwestern-spawned Jackson Browne.
That image won't be dispelled with "Streetlights," one of the finer tracks on this album. Another quiet beginning which, when it hits the line, "you're thinking that you're strong enough/To make the jump up to the big big sky, " the melody soars into a wonderful string-drenched, pop climax.
This album is a no-brainer for Rouse fans, and one that is sure to win him a wider circle of admirers.