Videos by American Songwriter
4 out of 5 stars
Like so many artists seemingly stifled by the pandemic, Josh Rouse found himself going stir-crazy due to the shutdown. Having spent a good deal of time holed up in Spain, he took the opportunity to record a new album with the sole intention of giving himself some new material to perform at a nearby’50s-style American bar that happened to be owned by members of his Spanish band.
The result, the hopefully titled Going Places, shares an intimate yet ebullient feel, a sound that reflects the casual pace and sunny vibes of the country he now calls home. At the same time, it also manages to maintain the perky pop sound Rouse has infused in his M.O. over the span of the last two decades. As a set of songs made to be performed live, it’s obviously energetic, meant to emit a good-time vibe that’s worthy of an eager audience. Given its modest additives—guitars, keyboards, and a hint of horns to flesh out the arrangements—it finds songs such as “Apple of My Eye,” “Stick Around,” “City Dog,” and “Henry Miller’s Flat” sharing an easy-going attitude along with a carefree caress that pulls the listener with a fanciful finesse.
Likewise, when Rouse opts to share a tender touch, as with the breezy “Waiting on the Blue,” he conveys a mood of quiet contentment that serves to brighten the mood even in the midst of these troubling times. The same could be said of “There’s Somebody Whose Job It Is,” another song that manages to share a similar sense of upbeat optimism.
The tone is consistent throughout, a sound so giddy and engaging, that it can easily break down barriers in order to allow for a communal embrace. Going Places provides a shared sense of solace when it’s needed the most. The quiet contemplative “Indian Summer” may be the sole exception, but its soothing strains provide a welcome respite regardless. Taken in tandem, there’s a charming quality attached to this music that’s absolutely undeniable.