On their fourth album, Emily Saliers and Amy Ray introduced a host of new sounds, including strings and exotic percussion, to add muscle to one of their strongest batches of songs.
I’m entering my second week of songs that have personal meaning for me — a quality that is extremely rare in the music I listen to. Tellingly, many of these songs aren’t particular favorites of mine… the personal connection clearly isn’t that important when it comes to my enjoyment and appreciation of good music.
Last week’s songs all focused on the life cycle of a relationship… from adolescent romance through marriage, kids and ultimately death. This week’s songs are less unified in theme but they do seem to share a certain melancholy (surprise!) quality and most of them deal with some combination of nostalgia and regret.
He’s a little bit ‘Pure Pop,’ a little bit ‘Folk Rock Derivative,’ with a dash of ‘Melancholy’ for flavor. He’s Paul Simon (both pre- and post-Graceland) crossed with a more upbeat Elliott Smith and a less glam The Smiths.
He tends to favor a quick start and a slow finish, with emotional peaks and valleys in between. This is one of just many ways to sequence an album, but it’s an effective one, and one he has returned to again ad again.
In 2005, Josh Rouse released Nashville, my favorite of his albums and (probably not coincidentally) the one that introduced me to his work. Every track on this album is superb. Listening to it as preparation for this blog entry, I started reconsidering placing it at only #8 on my decade’s-best list.
In contrast to the two concept-heavy records that preceded it, Nashville is just a collection of songs. But the musical exploration of those records helped settle Rouse into a songwriting groove that had him hitting the sweet spot on every one of these tracks. From the Smiths-inspired ‘Welcome to the Hamptons’ to the blues-swing of ‘Why Won’t You Tell Me What,’ every note feels like the right one.