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Singer Songwriter Showcase: Josh Rouse- "The Smooth Sounds of Josh Rouse"
By Gary Schwind

[Editor's note: This review is focused mainly on the rarities CD portion of the new CD/DVD package]

Josh Rouse’s CD/DVD collection of b-sides and rarities, compiled by Josh himself, is hard to pin down.  It starts out with the spare “Michigan,” which would fit just as well on an album like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska.  Unlike Nebraska, however, Rarities also contains horns, strings and a keyboard part that sounds like something from a Three Dog Night album.

Josh Rouse is hard to categorize because, while he reminds me of a couple different artists, he has created his own sound.  Like Beck, he moves easily from one kind of sound to another.  On Rarities, he gives us glimpses of acoustic rock, lounge, roots and something along the lines of Stereolab.  Vocally, he sometimes sounds like E from The Eels.  Regardless of the style, each song is a story worth listening to.  

The highlight of this album for me is a cover of The Kinks “Well-Respected Man.”  Rouse’s version is a somewhat ethereal, jazzy version of this one that has long been one of my favorite Kinks songs.  I don’t think there are a lot of artists out there that could do justice to The Kinks.  Josh Rouse does.  

“Scenes from a Bar in Toronto” is another interesting song, particularly if you like truth in advertising.  It sounds like Josh was in a bar, strumming his guitar while people talked in the background.

Rarities  is a quality album just under forty minutes long.  It leaves me wanting more, not just for this album.  It leaves me wanting to check out more from this talented singer-songwriter.  If you like singer-songwriters, you should check him out as well.

[The DVD portion features live footage from the 1972 tour. The rarities CD reviewed here comes packaged with the DVD. See the eCard link and homepage link below for more info on the full package]

CD Info 

Josh Rouse- The Smooth Sounds of Josh Rouse
Label: Ryko Distribution

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