When we first heard from singer-songwriter Josh Rouse, the Nebraska native was 26 years old, and living in Nashville. His first album, 1998's "Dressed Up Like Nebraska" was equal parts country, folk, rock and pop, and earned him much critical acclaim. Today, Josh Rouse is a resident of Spain, and as VOA's Katherine Cole reports, his new CD "Country Mouse, City House" shows the local culture has influenced the songwriter.
Most artists change their sound over time. It's the natural outcome of maturity. One just doesn't see the world the same way at 20 and 40. Style often changes too, and rarely do you hear a musician change his sound as much as Josh Rouse. Melodically, his new songs sound softer, and a bit dreamy. What hasn't mellowed is the emotional impact of his songs.
"Snowy" is one of the nine new songs on Josh Rouse's City House, Country Mouse, an album the songwriter calls more "wintery" than his last. The themes on his seventh full-length release include death, isolation, religion and dreaming. Some of the songs, like the one we just heard, have a jazzy feel. Others, like "God, Please Let Me Go Back," are set to melodies not far removed from the songs that came out of California in the early 1970s from artists like Jackson Browne, Poco, and Rick Nelson and The Stone Canyon Band.
"Understated" might be a good word to describe many of the songs on Country Mouse, City House. Songwriters often write about these tough subjects in a more aggressive style. But Josh Rouse is proving that you can be hard-hitting with a groove.
Of his new home in Spain, Josh Rouse says, "It doesn't make a that big a difference where I live. I'll be doing the same amount of touring." He'll soon be off on an extended U.S. tour, with shows scheduled from mid-September into early November. Josh Rouse wraps up 2007 with a month-long tour of Europe and the United Kingdom in support of Country Mouse, City House.