red lights

Spreading the love vibration

Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse - 1972
(Rykodisc)
3 1/2 (out of 5 stars)

Reviewed: Nov. 4, 2003


Review by Tony Bonyata

Born and raised in Nebraska and now residing in the country music mecca - Nashville, Tennessee - it stands to reason that singer-songwriter Josh Rouse's music might naturally gravitate towards alternative country in the vein of, say, an early Wilco or Ryan Adams. But, instead, Rouse's latest album, aptly titled 1972, mirrors much of the great pop, rock and soul of that very special year (the same year in which he was also brought into this world).
Produced by Brad Jones and recorded at Josh's Bedroom Classics home studio, the rich compositions that grace this album never get too self-important or watered-down like so many other up-and-coming singer-songwriters, but rather stand tall next to many of the musical greats that came before him some thirty years ago.
Rouse kicks off the irresistible number "Slaveship" with a Stonesy piano riff, after adding sunny harmonies that dapple over a refreshing lead vocal and sexy sax on the upbeat number "Love Vibration." The well-crafted pop continues to cast a warm glow on "Sunshine (Come on Lady)," complete with infectious panting and glassy guitars.
But just as pop wasn't the only thing to grace the charts on Rouse's birth year (a time in which he's so decidedly fixated with) much of the music here is also steeped in a true 70s soul that would make Stevie Wonder and the late, great Marvin Gaye proud. Songs such as "James," with it's smooth beats, twittering flute and Josh's buttery-smooth falsetto voice, as well as the funky bass-line on the sweaty soul sonnet "Come Back (Light Therapy)" and the 70s orchestral treatments that turn "Under Your Charms" from a pretty folk number into something that could fit comfortably within a Blaxplotation film, all prove that this is much more than just your average folkie with a voice and acoustic guitar.
While all this may sound like a trip down memory lane (which it certainly is), when the destination is such a great year as 1972 and the material is covered with a bright new, sunny coat of hope and happiness - it's hard to avoid this gifted artist's love vibration.

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