100 for 2000 – #54. Josh Rouse – Nashville

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2005 – #4. Josh Rouse – Nashville
(Ryko)

I had loved Josh Rouse’s last album, 1972. I loved that album so much that initially, I was cold to this album. But that opinion’s now changed. I now think Nashville is my fave Josh Rouse album.

My initial reservations came from a return to the melancholy of his pre 1972 work. I like those albums a lot, but the fun Rouse was having on 1972 really breathed life into his music. So, yes, he returned to downbeat balladry, but he kept the bag of tricks he learnt from 1972. The colourful production, the keyboards, the harmonies all live on. But he really upped the emotional power.

There is a batch of songs that he still plays live, and they make up the core of this record. It’s the Nighttime is sexy and seductive, and a great opening track. And in a great Rouse-esque twist, he suggests trying on his partner’s clothes. Streetlights is a stilted conversation with an old friend. And then there’s the huge Sad Eyes, that builds from a piano tinkle to the most orchestrated thing he’s ever done.

But it’s My Love Is Gone that really kills me. Rouse doesn’t really say much about his private life, but this album turned out to be a goodbye to his home of Nashville, and to his wife. Next time we see him, he would have a new life (and sound) in Spain. And My Love Is Gone is his most direct song of loss.

Continuing what Songs For Silverman and my love of Paul Simon built on, Nashville never loses control. Even though the songs are filled with sadness and regret, the approach is professional. And sounds like a million bucks.

I have seen Rouse live a few times, and it’s always the songs from this album that shines the brightest. Taking away from the genre exercise of 1972, he just came out with his best songs.

The last word comes from Life, the last track on the record. Reminiscent of the last track on another Nashville named album – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You. Not that it’s a love song, but it’s an extremely talented musician just knocking a whistling tune. It finally opens up the album to a bit of fun, a bit of a smile and a bit of air.

(No videos for this album?)

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