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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100 for 2000 – #34. Josh Rouse – 1972

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.

2003 – #4. Josh Rouse – 1972
(Ryko)

Josh Rouse has always been a sad sack. His three previous albums all had lovely moments, and were sadly sighing singer songwriter affairs. But on his fourth album, he decided to have a little more fun. Taking inspiration from the year of his birth, he seeked to recapture the feeling and moods of the era. So he travelled back in time to 1972.

It takes a lot of cues from lots of music I love – Carole King, ballad-y Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, those early Paul Simon solo records etc. There is also a fair bit of soul on this record. Like 5th Dimension, but by a short white guy.

A bit like Lisa Miller’s Car Tape, this record brought me closer to some golden, olden age of music. I didn’t really care for what bands were on the cover of magazines at this point. I was digging deeper into older, weirder stuff.

This is the place to start with Josh Rouse. Musically, it’s tremendously accomplished. The smooth basslines, the keyboard sounds, the trumpet and strings stabs – it’s beautifully recorded. The songwriting is equally great – looping into harmony laden break downs and huge, soulful chorsues – he pulls off exactly what he trying to do.

The album is, like most of 70s soul, about sex and love (in that order). Under Your Charms is Rouse at his most seductive. The young lovers in 1972 and the playboy in James… all paint a picture of the lonely streets in the 70s. It feels like they are characters from some blaxploitation flick.

Oddly though, in recent years this album has fallen off my radar. Several lackluster albums has dulled the magic of this one. Although I have strong memories of this album for Sydney. And that wonderful show at the Annadale Hotel where he played Gillian Welch’s Look At Miss Ohio and Neil Young’s Harvest.