Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Rouse has an interesting record collection: we know this because for a few albums -- notably 1972 which nodded to Seventies singer-songwriters, and Nashville which raided 80s pop, rock and indie music -- have sounded like a man rummaging through his musical closet for new clothes to wear.
It's fair to say his best album was Under Cold Blue Stars of 2002 and while those two mentioned previously are kinda nice it wasn't until his recent Subtitulo (a breezy affair made after he relocated to Spain) that you felt he was starting to sound like himself again.
The back cover of this one isn't promising, it is a photo of what is obviously his CD collection.
And yes, he does shuffle around a little in some familar territory: as he did on Nashville he seems to go to the former-Replacement Paul Westerberg's solo career for a tune or two, and the quite lovely God Please Let Me Go Back invokes the spirit of George Harrison.
What elevates this album above some in his rapidly expanding catalogue are the deft arrangements for pedal steel, horns, organs and vibes alongside the acoustic and electric guitars. Some of these songs really take flight and are emotionally uplifting in a gentle way.
He also has a way with a melody which can effortlessly progress through some subtle changes, his lyrics can be dry and witty, and his voice (while not the most distinctive in folk-rock) seems ideally suited to what he writes.
Former fans can confidently come back for this pleasantly unspectacular outing, and if he's new to you it's a good starting point before you head back for Under Cold Blue Stars and Subtitulo.