Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations – Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations

January 01, 1970



Listening to Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations, it’s
not hard to imagine sipping a glass of Malaga in
a café on the coast of Spain,
Mediterranean zephyrs brushing your skin as a trio’s sun-kissed, soothing music
blends with the sounds of conversation and clinking glasses. In short, if
impeccably played background music is what you’re after, then this album fits
the bill. But anyone familiar with Rouse’s oeuvre has reason to expect more.


The album’s
international influence isn’t as pronounced as on 2009’s bilingual El Turista, but Rouse still employs
Latin rhythms and musical textures on a number of tracks. Although such
stylings lend to Long Vacation‘s
mellow mood, they don’t fully account for its frequent inability to demand the
listener’s attention. Mellowness is nothing new for Rouse, after all. Hell, he
even has a double-disc collection entitled The
Smooth Sounds of Josh Rouse
. The difference is that his best work – whether
uptempo pop or whispered, wistful ruminations – resonates emotionally with the
listener, whereas the bulk of Long
is pleasant but nothing more. There’s little in the way of shifts
in tempo or dynamics to stir feeling, and a number of lyrics are so banal they
sound like filler Rouse intended to replace with sharper phrasing but never
did: “I don’t need nobody else/I can do everything by myself/And I know I’ll be
just/Fine, fine,” “When the year is out, I’ll be me again/I’ll be standing
proud with my new best friend,” “Oh, where could the sun be this afternoon?/Oh,
look what the sun did; it made the sky turn blue!” [Ouch. -Lyrics Ed.]


Lazy lyrics
aside, “Oh, Look What the Sun Did!” is an imminently catchy tune as is the
opener, “Digging in the Sand.” Both songs exhibit Rouse’s ear for melody and
talent for writing a hook. “To the Clock, To the City,” maybe the album’s
strongest song, begins with breezy, Hawaiian-flavored verses and a shuffling
chorus before swelling gently into a whirling bridge that disintegrates as
Rouse sings, “Am I dreaming?” and then folds elements of the bridge and chorus
together as the song picks up again to carry to its close.


though, those scattered highlights don’t outweigh the somnolent quality
pervading the rest of the songs. Long
isn’t a bad album per se (Rouse is too gifted a songwriter to
make a genuinely bad album), but it
has the sound of an uninspired one.


DOWNLOAD: “Digging in the Sand,” “To the Clock, To
the City,” “Oh, Look What the Sun Did!” JASON MIDDLEKAUFF



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