By Scott Roberts
Singer/songwriter Josh Rouse has always been a restless soul. From the tunefully mellow pop-rock of his 1998 debut Dressed Up Like Nebraska, to the conceptual retro vibe of 2003’s 1972, Rouse has never stayed in one musical place too long or allowed himself to be pigeonholed. On his eighth full-length collection, El Turista, Rouse has once again fully immersed himself into an uncharted genre, this time the balmy bossa nova rhythms of his adopted home of Spain, and once again come up with a winningly melodic batch of songs that he has joyously crafted with an emphasis on being true to his heart and soul and little regard for winning new fans.
The CD opens with the up-tempo “Bienvenido,” an instrumental propelled by a hypnotic keyboard bass, and is followed by nine tunes (four sung in Spanish, five in English) that nearly all bring to mind lazing about on a warm tropical island with nothing to do except sip cool beverages and occasionally shake your hips. Standout tracks are “Sweet Elaine,” featuring Rouse’s smooth, inviting vocals and an impressive string arrangement, “Mesie Julian,” a cover of a 1940s Cuban classic that Getz and Gilberto might be envious of, and the Graceland-esque “I Will Live On Islands,” a song that nearly dares the listener to refrain from dancing.
Fortunately, Josh Rouse is no dilettante and he has completely committed to the musical stylings found on El Turista as he has on all his other disparate releases. And though this laid back throwback has more in common with “The Girl From Ipanema” than “Girl From The North Country,” you can bet that Rouse will not grow old in Spain, at least not musically speaking.
Josh Rouse plays Variety Playhouse on May 21. Tickets are on sale HERE.