Others: Ryan Adams, Mason Jennings, Billy Bragg
The title of "singer-songwriter" was once an indication of peak song craft, music that hooks, and demeanors that aim to please. It has degenerated into a term synonymous with mediocrity. Let's put it this way: it wouldn't be the best way to introduce yourself to an audience. We associate singer-songwriters with coffee shop venues, casual dress, and run-of-the-mill material. Singer-songwriters are proof that hard work doesn't always pay off. Singer-songwriters are pegged as average, everyday, commonplace, ordinary. It's the lowliest hyphenated title a musician could carry.
That said, listeners need to keep a keen ear to the crops of "singer-songwriters" still recording and performing. Every so often a talent will break through and exhibit something different from the pack of tame java entertainers in earth tones. Josh Rouse has proven himself on previous releases to be a formidable singer-songwriter, one who might make a leap towards the respect of an encompassing audience. He edges closer to the ledge on his latest release, Subtitulo.
What distinguishes Rouse this go round? Well, a move. Rouse relocated to Spain. The town of Puerto de Santa Maria provided Rouse the opportunity to indulge in Brazilian musical tastes, an interest that supplied him the direction of his next album. Named in honor of his constant use of subtitles while watching television in Spain, Subtitulo evokes the breeze and ease of a whimsical summer's day, a tone and sensation Rouse inherited from Brazilian music. The feeling results in Rouse's album appearing as a subdued effort, one in which musicians concentrate but avoid breaking sweat for the fear of beads on a fretboard. The album is leisurely, relaxed — therein lies its delight. But then again, vintage couches and nutmeg-flavored mochas have a similar effect.
1. Quiet Town
3. It Looks Like Love
4. La Costa Blanca
5. Jersey Clowns
6. His Majesty Rides
7. Givin' It Up
9. The Man Who..
10. El Otro Lado