Swallow Hill and the Walnut Room Present: Josh Rouse (solo)

Josh Rouse (solo)

It may have been 15+ years - from roots in rural Nebraska, through time in ‘Music City’ Nashville, TN, and to the current day relocated to a new home in cosmopolitan Spain – but it seems that the song spirits have been constant companions for Josh Rouse. And maybe no more so than on the singer-songwriter’s latest record, The Happiness Waltz, an album that marries both his past, and present – revisiting an earlier era, where his music was heavily influenced by the ‘soft rock’ of the 70’s, and combining it with lyrical tales drawn from the here and now – his modern day-to-day life, one deeply enriched by his children and family.

Rouse has been lauded for his special talents - creating little slices of heaven with words and music that have captured the hearts and minds of both critics, and fans, the globe over, whether it is the New York Times talking about his “pop-folk introspection”, Filter lauding the “wide-eyed ‘thank you, ma’am’ songs that could have grated in their earnest angle if they weren’t so damn wonderfully executed” or Uncut raving about the music as “warm, molten gold, a long bath in the serenity of well-gauged bittersweet balladry” and proclaiming him “a talent to outrank Ryan Adams or Conor Oberst.” Over a storied career, from the engaging debut Dressed Like Nebraska, through his ‘golden era’ with 1972 and Nashville, and right down to the 2011 latin-bossa nova-tinged release …and the Long Vacations, Rouse has created a series of unique, and distinctive records, filled with sparkling melodies and enchanting lyrics.

And there is no disputing that The Happiness Waltz again proves that he stands apart from the crowd, producing yet another set of delicate, intelligent, nuanced pop songs, all destined to become fast favorites. An album of twelve radiant new tunes, from the upbeat “This Movie’s Way Too Long” to the jangle-fest that is “Simple Pleasures”, a cohesive whole that should please fans both old and new.

After a number of years influenced by his changing world - new surroundings and a myriad of fresh influences, moving to Spain and starting a family – which were wonderfully reflected in albums such as Subtitulo and El Turitsa, in 2012 Rouse has naturally gravitated to what he does best, creating old-time warm AM radio-friendly songs that will stick in your brain and not let go. Breezy, summer-y… call it what you will – it’s an elegance that has been favorably compared to the Laurel Canyon/Southern California scene of the early 1970’s. But at the same time, far from being retro, it is anchored in the most important part of the songwriter’s modern life – family.

And so here we are in 2013 – reflecting on a lyrical development & personal growth that has occurred over Josh Rouse’s more than ten albums so far – from his early introspective catalog through his coming out period where the world discovered his talents, and more recently on releases created since starting a new life in Europe - a creative arc that has led to The Happiness Waltz – a perfect distillation of the old and new, and maybe his most perfectly realized record yet.
In an era where singer-songwriters appear to be a dime-a-dozen, he seems to be more than average, yards ahead of just a ‘run-of-the-mill guy-with-a-guitar’. When Rouse sings on “The Happiness Waltz”, “It’s good to have you in my life”, one can only think, when it comes to his music and this album, no truer words have been spoken. Yes indeed, Josh Rouse. Yes indeed.

Jami Lunde

Jami's 2nd album Big Black Birds to be released 2011 features Chris Funk of The Decemberists, Eben Grace, Jack Leahy, Todd Patrick Livingston,
Ian Morclock, Greg McRae and Brian Schey on Awnry Girl Records

$20 adv / $23 day of


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