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on 18 April 2006
After the career-high of Josh Rouse's magnificent fourth album '1972' and last year's slightly less gripping (but no less impressive) 'Nashville', 'Subtitulo' is something of an exercise in treading water. Sure, there's no shortage of tunes and the instrumentation is, if anything, a toned-down version of 'Nashville' but there the similarities between 'Subtitulo' and it's two predecessors end. In some cases, it actually sounds like a collection of out-takes from the aforementioned 'Nashville' with none of it's warmth, humour or melodic invention. It's a pity; Rouse is one of the best songwriters around but 'Subtitulo' is a long way short of the standard I have come to expect from him.
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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.
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on 7 April 2006
The first track of this (rather brief) album sets the mood, and it is full of sunishine. Rouse sounds perfectly at home on this smooth collection of spanish-inflected tracks, unfussed and unhurried. The instrumental track is curiously a real highlight, perhaps because it lifts and shifts the pace a little and if anything the album does lack a real standout track that will have you singing in the kitchen.
It is still a worthwhile addition to his catalogue, and the spanish influences promise better to come-he really seems to have found his groove.
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on 22 March 2006
Seriously though, how does he do it? Just one year after the outstanding Nashville, Mr Rouse has excelled himself yet again. A flawless (really!) album, which evokes images of easy summer afternoons in a sun-drenched Mediterranean village, possibly the Quiet Town that Josh has been living in for the past year. Jack Johnson has built up a big following as the definitive chilled-out "guy with a guitar", but really he lacks the excitement of Josh Rouse's innovative streak. On one hand I want this to be the big album that gives Josh his break, on the other hand I want to keep it just for myself and the other fans who have been listening to him for years. See you in Oxford, Josh!
This album will not leave my car CD player this summer.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 October 2008
This was my first Josh Rouse album, and I liked it so much that I bought `Nashville' a week later.
Subtítulo seems to me a smaller-scale affair, in simple length terms as well as feel. There's one `big' track: `His Majesty Rides', which could be my favourite. This has a great rhythm, and I love the way it hots up half way through. Great chorus too.
`It Looks Like Love' is almost as big, but it's a bit softer and more whimsical. Few pop songs have such sweet vocals as this catchy little number. You will probably have to sing along every time this comes on.
Oh, and there's a `disco' song too: the very catchy `Givin' it Up', which I think is okay, but perhaps a tad repetitive.
I like the soft opening track that's a touching portrait of somebody enjoying a new life in a new place. `Wonderful' and `Jersey Clowns' are quiet and underplayed, like much of the music on the album, but always compelling thanks to Josh's voice and the beautiful way the music is put together.
The only track that I'm not so keen on is `The Man Who Doesn't Know How to Smile', which has a rather annoying chorus (but is otherwise a nice duet with a Spanish female singer).
This is an album that grows on you the more you play it. Some people will probably think it's dull, but you have to get to know it. It's an album full of musical treats.
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on 21 April 2006
Far more laid-back and upbeat than any previous effort, this album is (on first listen) a fair effort but nothing special. A few more listens and you begin to see the change in Josh's music is for the better. Where "Nashville" was a fanstitic, emotional, reflective journey and "Under Cold Blue Stars" gave us Josh in a fairly downbeat, lovelorn guise, "Subtitulo" shows Mr Rouse as a content man, taking it easy and seeing what comes to him. It's a more honest album than any, other than perhaps "Home" and is a real grower. Get it now!
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on 20 March 2006
If quality is what you crave then Josh Rouse delivers on his
newie. Don't expect quantity though, as this album clocks in at
33 minutes over 10 tracks ; not exactly value for your dollar.
Probably more up-tempo than I anticipated,
the songs are also uniformly strong and the production
close to faultless. There are some deft musical embellishments,
and Josh even delivers a very likeable instrumental.
If you admire any of his releases, but particularly
the last couple,purchase without hesitation.
Long may he deliver quality of this nature, just
maybe next time J.R., tack us on two more songs of the same
impressiveness. True rating probably 4.5 stars. Cheers.
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on 24 June 2006
On first listening I thought this was bland stuff. However, stick with it. As always Josh Rouse continues to surprise with his constant changes in direction. Where 1972 was a euphoric celebration of the seventies, Subtitulo pays hommage to Paul Simon - and does it very well indeed.
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on 31 October 2015
Solid Josh album. Pleasant listening; not his best.
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