Josh Rouse – Best of the Rykodisc Years [reissue]

January 01, 1970


This two-disc set could just as well
be entitled The Best of Josh Rouse. Culled
from the first seven years of Rouse’s career, it offers a reminder of his
ability to infuse gentle melodies with a subtle intensity, an intensity lacking
on the lounge-flavored fare of his recent work. “Under Cold Blue Stars” and the
selections from the retro concept album 1972 all have large traces of his overly insouciant contemporary tone, but the
folk rock-influenced tracks, particularly those from Dressed Up Like Nebraska and Home, sound as engaging as they did when they garnered Rouse critical acclaim.


On the gritty rocker “Directions”
Rouse pushes his smoky voice as close to a Westerbergian growl as he can, but
more often his songs create an enveloping mood of melancholy rather than fiery
angst, as on the horn-punctuated “Laughter” or the sleepy waltz “100m
Backstroke.” Bittersweet ballads
like “Ugly Stories” and the slow-building “Rise” from
Under Cold
Blue Stars
and Nashville respectively exhibit an increased
sophistication both stylistically and sonically but retain the emotional pull
of his earlier material.
2 offers all six tracks from 2001’s Bedroom
Classics, Vol. 1
EP as well as a handful of outtakes and demos.


“Laughter,” “Ugly Stories” JASON MIDDLEKAUFF



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