Rouse’s honest songwriting technique resembles Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan...
Jamie Milton

12:23 14th July 2007

It’s rumoured that Lou Reed used to write several songs a day, thus, meaning that every now and then, he’d create a few classics. Maybe Josh Rouse has been using the same formula. Moving onto his seventh full-length album, you cannot put down this guy’s passion for music, and his knack for creating beautifully written catchy country-pop songs. ‘Country Mouse, City House’ which hilariously rhymes with the songwriter’s surname isn’t a sign of coming of age. It’s a gloriously Americanised record, one to listen to outside in the sun, regardless of the time of year.

Lou Reed comes back into the equation with the feel that the album gives. Sounding like something recorded expertly in the 70’s, true-to-fact it was recorded in a mere six days. Happy-go-lucky rhythms in ‘Hollywood Bass Player’ highlight the 95% American theme, lyrics especially, signal Rouse’s pride in his country. “The French didn’t want me around, they didn’t like my groove, so I packed up my bass guitar and moved to Hollywood”, the track sounds like something Belle & Sebastian would have been influenced by if recorded decades ago. A weak spot in the album is the fact that nothing is innovative, nothing will break new grounds or stamp on the big toe of modern day music, but this is Josh Rouse, who knows all the tricks in the book, and it really doesn’t sound like he cares.

He’s almost showing off in opener ‘Sweetie’ with its captivating ability to make you sing-along even if you’ve barely listened to it before. For some reason or another though, every song is a grower, even if you’ve heard these techniques, these chords a thousand times, there’s something different and lovable about Rouse in these songs that make it more satisfying as it progresses. The most interesting thing about this seemingly happy album is that behind the jolly tunes and “sing along if you know the words” attitude, the lyrics prove that the sound of the record is just an escape route from the dark words that Rouse wrote down in the writing process. At times showing his own heartache; “In my life, I only wanted things to go right, Oh my god, look at all the mess I’ve caused”, and at other times being wise words to others in need; “But listen honey, I am not the kid to tell you how to love or live”.

One thing’s for sure, Rouse sure does write about London bridges better than Fergie does in the penultimate track of the album. Rouse’s honest songwriting technique resembles Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan almost intentionally, with ease. And even though ‘Country Mouse, City House’ wouldn’t win in a game of top trumps against some of his previous albums, he won’t be able to hide the fact that he’s rather proud of this record.