Josh Rouse has never stayed in one place for very long, but El Turista -- his third album as a Spanish citizen -- suggests he isn’t leaving the Mediterranean anytime soon. “I’ll send you postcards, boys!,” he sings during “I Will Live on Islands,” one of the five songs to feature English lyrics. Roughly half of El Turista is performed in Spanish, and far more than that bears the country’s influence, from the strum of Rouse’s flamenco guitar to the relaxed, siesta-worthy pitch of his voice. Rouse is still a traveler at heart, though, and he samples from several different cultures throughout the album, often devoting entire tracks -- including the instrumental “Bienvenido,” which opens the disc -- to his fascination with Brazilian traditions. Bossa nova and tropicalia are the major players, but Rouse even attempts several samba numbers with moderate success, all the while dressing up his songs in familiar layers of strings, harmonies, and minimalist piano chords. The result is a globe-trotting pop album that sounds like nothing he's attempted before, yet still retains enough of his signature arrangements (courtesy of Brad Jones, producer of 1972, Nashville, and Subtitulo, who reprises that role here) to make Rouse’s multi-ethnic transformation a believable one. El Turista takes some getting used to, perhaps, but it’s a solid piece of work.
El Turista Review
by Andrew Leahey