Today’s track comes from Rouse’s 2015 album The Embers of Time, which he described as his “surreal expat therapy record.” These tracks find him battling depression and coming to terms with his own mortality. But while a couple of songs are on the morose side, this is mostly a life-affirming collection.
The 2011 album Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations somehow slipped entirely past my radar. Not to the point that I don’t own it (obviously I do, because it showed up on a Random iTunes Weekend) but, given that Rouse is one of my favorite artists, it’s bizarre that it’s completely new to me.
This album came out during Rouse’s Mediterranean phase, when he was living in Spain and dabbling in world music. His previous album, 2010’s El Turista, consisted almost entirely of songs sung in Spanish. So maybe I mistakenly thought this one was more of the same.
I’m happy to see that new music is forthcoming from Josh Rouse, whose last album (Love in the Modern Age) came out in 2018. Rouse returns this summer with a side project called Isla, and a 9-track album titled The Mediterranean Gardener.
Isla is a solo effort, but different enough in sound and approach for Rouse to record it under a new name. He describes it as “improvised electronica” that he whipped together during his pandemic quarantine.
‘After All‘ – Dar Williams (2000)
Eleven years ago, when I first wrote about this song on the blog, I couldn’t find it on YouTube so I had to upload my own version. That clip has received more than 125k views since. Not exactly ‘Gangnam Style,’ but pretty impressive for a rather obscure artist like Dar Williams.
On that clip, and on the other videos that eventually made it to YouTube, you’ll find many comments by listeners that this song quite literally saved their lives. I can only imagine how heartening that must be for Williams.
I discovered Josh Rouse after the release of his 2005 album Nashville, a record I count among one of my all-time top ten. I quickly gobbled up his previous four albums, all great, and especially loved 1972.
Titled after Rouse’s birth year (and mine), 1972 blends sounds and styles of the 70s with Rouse’s alt-pop sensibility, dabbling in a little Carole King here, a little Marvin Gaye there. Though it’s a concept album in the strictest sense, it doesn’t feel fussed over. He’s too good a songwriter for it to feel anything but authentic.