Feels like Home

<!– Link: Josh Rouse

Okay. Singer-songwriters tend to blur into one for me. Take acoustic guitar, add introspective, potentially solipistic lyrics.

But let’s say there’s a spectrum.

On the one hand, there’s Jeremy Toback, who wears his Bob Dylan influences on his sleeve, who writes decent if not exactly memorable songs, who sounds commercial enough to warrant inclusion on a few movie trailers.

On the other hand, there’s Yuji Oniki, who doesn’t hide his affinity to the Byrds or the Beatles but carries it off as his own, even singing a verse or two in Japanese.

Josh Rouse is a sort of singer-songwriter who could open for Whiskeytown or the Old ’97s without ever sounding like he’s a No Depression musician. In that sense, he’s more like Oniki.

Rouse’s latest album, Home, is an understated collection of tunes performed with an uncommon restraint. Rather that impress with a lot of dramatic swells of chiming acoustic guitar — like Toback — Rouse would prefer to embellish his songs with a touch of harmony there, a little countermelody there.

There’s a bit of press floating out there about how Home’s sense of desparation slowly etches itself into your subconscious. Well, if you’ve got the dishwasher and laundry going, it’s hard for that to really happen.

Rouse’s music demands the kind of attention suitable for late night listening — soft enough not to wake the neighbors but not so ambient as to treat it like sonic wallpaper.

It’s a good album for those meditative kinds of moments.