Josh Rouse - The Happiness Waltz (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE name of Josh Rouse’s tenth studio album tells you a lot about what to expect in terms of tempo from the album: it’s upbeat, breezy and infectious in its celebratory way.
The Happiness Waltz finds the acclaimed American singer-songwriter returning to his early 2000 period, when he recruited a lot of his long-time fans. But they could also just as easily find a home on the American radio of the late ’70s nestled between some of the biggest songs of the day such is their timeless quality.
Yet the lyrical themes remain deeply personal and seem to mark a bright period in this particular artist’s life, with free-flowing sentiments such as “it’s good to have you in my life” and “lately all I care about is you and me, and the future that looks so bright” abounding. It’s hard not to bask in the warmth of Rouse’s latest pop craft.
The feel-good template is laid down pretty much from the outset with the opener Julie (Come Out Of The Rain), which boasts a country-pop vibe complete with one of the album’s best (and most sing-along) choruses.
Simple Pleasures combines tightly woven pop melodies with breezy guitar licks and a bright chorus, while It’s Good To Have You strips things down for an ode to love that’s utterly charming (and which includes the “future looks bright” line). The inclusion of some subtle horns adds to that ’70s vibe we mentioned.
City People, City Things has a laidback folk-rock vibe, This Movie’s Way Too Long finds Rouse having some fun at another medium’s expense, and Our Love is a piano-backed poignant moment that offers a look at a more mature relationship and what that entails.
Elsewhere, Start A Family explores the possibility of building a next generation, while reflecting on the challenging journey to get to that point, Purple And Beige and The Ocean slow down the tempo for some more relationship examinations, and The Happiness Waltz rounds things off with a tender yet beautifully realised slice of optimism.
If there’s perhaps a criticism, it’s that the album as a whole is light on genuinely killer moments. But it’s a comfortable, pleasurable, thought-provoking listen that finds Rouse on truly endearing form.
Download picks: Julie (Come Out Of The Rain), Simple Pleasures, Our Love, Start A Family, The Ocean