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The sound of summertime is here!
on 20 March 2006
Singer songwriter Josh Rouse returns with his 6th full length studio recording. Rouse never tends to spend too much time in one place, either physically or musically. Subtitulo is a case in point and sees him both relocate to Spain and embrace Bossa Nova. There is always a progression in Rouse's music. Whilst this record doesn't sound like a giant leap on from Nashville, it is a million miles away from the fraught Alt Country rock of his earlier records. The sound now drifts between the 70's pop of Fleetwood Mac and the gentle sway of João Gilberto's classic Bossa Nova recordings.
Quiet Town, Beautifully sets the scene. I love the Everybody's Talkin' vibe, right down to the whistling. Throughout the album there is a really cool use of whispering sustained strings; they first apear in Quiet Town after the first verse at about 35 seconds. They add a touch of melancholy where-ever they apear.
Summertime, Nice guitar sound. Starts off gently but then a Bossa Nova rythm section kicks in at about 1m 30. Very lazy, effortles vocals.
It looks like love, Starts off like it's going to break into Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty and carries on like something off Fleetwood Mac's Rumours LP. Perhaps the albums most obvious single.
La Costa Blanca, A gentle instrumental that builds with steel guitar. As an electric guitar builds and begins to squeal, it gently fades out - very restrained! A musical postcard from Spain.
Jersey Clowns, a gentle acoustic number with haunting strings. A story about a couple of guys who know that a friend's wife has been cheating on him. It's the first truly spellbinding moment of the album: 44 seconds in, the whispering strings. 53 seconds in, key change, base note, strings tighten "Gonna break the news, that his ladies run loose, yeah it's getting around".
His Majesty Rides, One to make you smile, the funky Rhodes, the falsetto vocal before the boom of the base kicks in at 1m 01. The best part though has to be the delivery of the line "Hey, look now, we move from town to town". A fun song chronicling life on the road.
Givin it up, the booze that is. A downbeat story of drunken excess over soaring seventies disco-lite strings. A faultless pop record.
Wonderful, back to Bossa Nova. A sublime string arrangement creeps in at about 1m 12 and is quickly joined by a chilled Bossa Nova rythm. "I think you're wonderful, don't change". Perhaps Rouse's most shamelessly romantic song yet.
The man who... Rouse shares vocals with new beau and female vocalist Paz Suay. I would guess they were looking for the sort of magic that João Gilberto created with the voice of his "untrained" wife Astrud Gilberto. Another nice up-beat track in the bossa nova style.
El otro lado After too many happy songs in a row, Josh finishes things off bitter-sweetly. A nice lyric, and some very pretty guitar work. I especially like the "Yeah but that's not me" lyric at 2m 07, backed by a little classic Rouse falsetto vocal, and then that sublime final chorus.
It's a short record, a little over 33 minutes, but El otro lado does the job. It makes you want to go straight back to the begining and do it all over again. It is at times naive, nostalgic and whimsical but it is always melodic and well written. Spring is nearly here, and Subtitulo could just possibly be your fast track to Summer.