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Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse Album Reviews

Nebraskan born singer-songwriter Josh Rouse grew up inspired by British bands like The Smiths and The Cure, and his music reflects both the homespun feeling of the American Midwest and the introverted yet poppy sound of the bands that influenced him. He also has a predilection for 1970’s soft rock, most explicitly on 2003’s excellent genre exercise album 1972. His observational songwriting and gentle voice are sometimes reminiscent of Paul Simon’s 1970’s work, while his penchant for 10 track, 40 minute albums also makes him feel like a throwback.

There’s lots to like about Rouse’s work, but I’m not sure that he’ll be remembered as a major artist. Rouse’s thoughtful songs are in the wrong era to find a mass audience, while his fondness for pop hooks and straightforward sensibilities don’t win him friends at Pitchfork. So Rouse is stuck in musical limbo, too clever for the mainstream but too white bread for hipsters, and he’s limited to fans of heartfelt, catchy song writing.

Josh Rouse started his career with the worthy but dour 1998 album Dressed Up Like Nebraska, and over the next few years became more confident and more musically expansive, building up to 1972 and 2005’s Nashville, which arguably stand as his two best records. 2006’s Subtítulo marks the start of a second phase in his career; Rouse relocated to Spain, and his subsequent releases often feel more light-hearted and less substantial, as well as often featuring a more Spanish flavour. I’m less familiar with Rouse’s later work, but overall it does feel less consistent than his initial run of albums.

Ten Favourite Josh Rouse Songs

Come Back (Light Therapy)
Sad Eyes
Christmas With Jesus
Parts and Accessories
Marvin Gaye
Winter in the Hamptons
My Love Has Gone
Under Cold Blue Stars
It Feels Like Love


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Josh Rouse Dressed Up Like Nebraska

Dressed Up Like Nebraska – Josh Rouse

1998, 7/10. Josh Rouse began his 1998 debut album on an 8-track recorder, and it has a low-key indie-folk sound.

Chester Josh Rouse and Kurt Wagner

Chester – Josh Rouse and Kurt Wagner

1999, 7/10. The Chester EP pairs Rouse with Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner, who contributes the lyrics.

Josh Rouse Home

Home – Josh Rouse

2000, 7.5/10. Home is a step forward in confidence for Josh Rouse, with hints of soul and hope permeating his downbeat folk.

Josh Rouse Under Cold Blue Stars

Under Cold Blue Stars – Josh Rouse

2002, 8/10. A concept album outlining the romance and dissipation of a small-town couple in 1950’s America.

1972 – Josh Rouse

2003, 8.5/10. Rouse uses the soft-rock and soul that were popular in the year of his birth as the basis for 1972.

Josh Rouse Nashville

Nashville – Josh Rouse

2005, 9/10. The melodic soft rock conceals serious thoughts on the dissolution of Rouse’s marriage and his relocation away from Nashville.

Josh Rouse Subtitulo

Subtítulo – Josh Rouse

2006, 7.5/10. Subtítulo reflects Rouse’s shift to Spain, with his soft rock bathed in sunshine.

Josh Rouse and Paz Suay She's Spanish I'm American

She’s Spanish, I’m American (EP) – Josh Rouse and Paz Suay

2007, 7/10. There’s more aural candy and less acoustic guitar on this five song EP than on any other Rouse release.

Josh Rouse Country Mouse City House

Country Mouse, City House – Josh Rouse

2007, 5.5/10. Country Mouse, City House feels like a grab bag of leftovers from earlier Rouse projects.

Josh Rouse El Turista

El Turista – Josh Rouse

El Turista (2010), not yet rated I haven’t lived with El Turista long enough to rate it yet; it’s pretty … Continue Reading El Turista – Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations

Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations – Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations (2011), not yet rated I didn’t realise this was a full album until I … Continue Reading Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations – Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse The Happiness Waltz

The Happiness Waltz -Josh Rouse

The Happiness Waltz (2013), not yet rated I like this album so far – feels like his best for quite … Continue Reading The Happiness Waltz -Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse The Embers of Time

The Embers of Time – Josh Rouse

The Embers of Time (2015), not yet rated

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