Label: Slow River / Rykodisc
It’s not often that I get too excited about a fundamentally straight-forward pop-rock record that is upbeat, has nearly painfully catchy melodies, and a real “American” soul (think Toad The Wet Sprocket, Matthew Sweet, Freedy Johnston). But when it happens, it’s a good feeling because I can once again reaffirm how potentially open I can be to commercial music. In a fairer world this record would set the standard for commercial radio, however it’s unlikely that this 25 year old Nashvillian will ever hear himself on anything other than college radio stations.
With his clean polished vocals and precise guitar arrangements, Rouse has strung together a collection of truly catchy songs that also happen to be a slightly more serious collection of songs and thoughts. These are songs that are pure rock-pop, but are also more than just a novel and barely heard afterthought, they come complete with a kicker: lush violin and cello accompaniments.
On “Dressed Up Like Nebraska” you can hear evidence of a genuinely talented young songwriter who crosses his astute ear for pop music with a great knowledge of all the best music that has come before him. Josh Rouse is a name to remember, and one that might help cheer you up after finding another parking ticket on your car!