Going Places

Josh Rouse

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Going Places Review

by Timothy Monger

Following detours into lush synth pop and jazzy Yuletide fare, singer/songwriter Josh Rouse circles back to his wheelhouse on Going Places, a breezy homemade record perfect for bopping around the barroom dancefloor, which as it happens was exactly his intention. A Nebraskan living the expat life in Spain, Rouse has spent a quarter-century exploring different avenues of cleverly built folk-pop, building up a prolific catalog and a reputation for consistent quality. Recorded at home during the global pandemic, Going Places is refreshingly warm and sweet, bearing little of contemporary society's ills and harking back to a more nostalgic time of early rock innocence. In that way it recalls Marshall Crenshaw's early albums where singer/songwriter craft meets late-'50s Brill Building rock and pop. With the music industry at a standstill, Rouse set his sights on writing a set of songs that yearn for a lively Saturday night at the local pub. He even had a place in mind. His Spanish bandmates had recently bought a local American-themed bar where zippy toe-tappers like "Apple of My Eye," "City Dog," and "The Lonely Postman'' would serve as a perfect soundtrack. He deftly avoids the more obvious retro-throwback production while serving up a platter of stripped-down organic pop, comfortably played by a small guitar combo. Going Places isn't a particularly challenging record, but that's not the point. Rouse imbues these little vignettes and easy-going love songs with his trademark charm and wit, creating a self-contained mood that has plenty of appeal.

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