Thursday, September 25, 2008

Album of the Week: The Best of the Rykodisc Years / Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse has always written songs that I've liked ("Directions," "Winter in the Hamptons" and "My Love is Gone" in particular"). Often romantic, the styles of the singer/songwriter have swayed from alt-country to 70s AM radio, while the choruses are frequently catchy as hell. I have not been a fan of everything Rouse has done, but his hand-picked Best of rightfully leaves those off in favor of his finest tunes. Rouse's greatest attribute may be his ability to create the feel of a band, while still remaining a genuine singer/songwriter. This is due in part to the fact that he has always surrounded himself with talented musicians, and that he is well-versed in the trade of songcraft. Arranged chronologically - showcasing the first seven years of his career - the first disc shows Rouse's evolution. Rouse did make changes, however each was subtle. The most striking aspect is the fact that through it all, Rouse has never sold out and always maintained his artistic integrity. In fact, with his recent independent efforts, Rouse has seemingly avoided the spotlight by choice.

The first disc asserts Rouse's place in music, while also arguing that his career progression is far from done. Disc two is for the fans - collecting all six songs from his Bedroom Classics Vol. 1 EP, as well as a smattering of demos and outtakes.

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