Music / CD Reviews

Josh Rouse "Subtitulo" (Nettwerk)

by Shawn Despres

The beauty of Josh Rouse’s music is its simplicity. Replete with catchy hooks and melodies, his straightforward arrangements and soft, soulful vocals combine to make some of the most intelligent, adult pop to come out of the United States in recent years.

“Subtitulo,” the sixth full-length album from the former Nashville singer-songwriter, was created shortly after his move to Spain. Each of Rouse’s underrated discs have varied from their predecessors, and “Subtitulo” continues the trend. More stripped down than his past work, things start off slowly with “Quiet Town,” a homage to his new, relaxed Spanish lifestyle. “It Looks Like Love” and the discoesque “Givin’ It Up” hint at remarkable pop sensibilities, while “Jersey Clowns” displays a talent for writing fantastic narratives.

Rouse’s love of 1970s pop and folk is still prevalent, but on “Subtitulo” it’s used to craft an excellent, laidback vibe as opposed to the upbeat singles that dominated albums such as 2003’s “1972.” Subtle percussion, lap steel guitar, and piano make the mellow, halfhour-long recording a great soundtrack for a short siesta or chilling out and sipping sangria.