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Josh Rouse - Country Mouse City House

Josh Rouse, Country Mouse City House

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

EVER since ending his contract with Rykodisc, American folk singer Josh Rouse has really started to stretch himself creatively. Having formed his own label, Bedroom Classics, the artist has released an album (Subtitulo) and two EPs (Bedroom Classics Vol 2 and She’s Spanish, I’m American with Paz Suay).

By his own admission, Subtitulo was a collection of songs with a distinctly spring/summer feel. Hence, the tracks on his latest LP Country Mouse City House have a much more wintry feel, even though he’s chosen to release them mid-July (perhaps he knew our weather would be so grim!!).

The result is a suitably warming collection of nine songs that embrace themes such as death, isolation, nature, religion and dreaming.

As ever, Rouse’s ability to write songs that reflect his observations of life and tell strong stories is deeply impressive. His thoughtful insights are, by turns, amusing, heartfelt and totally endearing. Some reflect everyday concerns that everyone can relate to, others are more personal offerings.

Highlights, of which there are many, include the lazy lament that is Italian Dry Ice, a huskily-delivered tale of longing and regret that contains a distinctly European feel (sometimes befitting of a slot on the Ocean’s 12 soundtrack). The heartfelt lyrics take the form of a plea to come home but rather than coming over all melancholy, the layered instrumentals provide a quietly intoxicating backdrop that possess a cinematic feel.

Rouse, himself, proves himself a master of ceremonies, playing guitars, piano, tambo, seashells and organ on the track, while Francis Salas drops a nice sax solo towards the end, and the trombones of Jose Guillamo and trumpets of Miguel Angel Munoz Crespo add an extra layer of quality.

Immediately following it is the equally impressive Hollywood Bass Player, a tale of roving celebrity that’s expertly relayed. It’s more upbeat and includes some nice acoustic and electric guitar interchanges, as well as some satisfying backing vocals from Paz Suay and Melissa Mathes.

Brad Jones provides some nice fender guitar on the shuffling, almost jazzy Pilgrim and there’s a wonderful tale of domestic drudgery on Domesticated Lovers, a sad tale of romance gone stale (“domesticated lovers never know they’re fine…”). It’s a song that may well resonate with anyone needing that extra spark.

London Bridges is more upbeat and another favourite, before final track Snowy underlines the wintry theme of proceedings with the type of offering that’s tailor-made for snuggling up in front of a warm fireplace and listening to.

Rouse jokingly acknowledges the weirdness of releasing such an autumnal offering in the height of summer by insisting that it will probably be Fall by the time people become aware of it! But that would be a shame. Country Mouse, City House is well worth becoming acquainted with at the earliest opportunity.

Download picks: Hollywood Bass Player, Italian Dry Ice, Snowy, London Bridges

Track listing:

  1. Sweetie
  2. Italian Dry Ice
  3. Hollywood Bass Player
  4. God, Please Let Me Go Back
  5. Nice To Fit In
  6. Pilgrim
  7. Domesticated Lovers
  8. London Bridges
  9. Snowy