Josh Rouse's seventh album Subtitulo is a warm and relaxed affair, much more so than any of his already quite warm and relaxed previous records. Produced again by Brad Jones, Rouse and a small group (Rouse on acoustic guitar, Jones on bass and pianos, Marc Pisapia on drums and percussion, some pedal steel from Pete Finney, and occasional strings provided by Chris Carmichael) recorded these ten songs in Rouse's new home country of Spain, Puerto de Santa Maria to be exact, and the album that resulted is perfect for dreaming a siesta away. His pure and easy vocals, gently strummed chords that nuzzle up against one another like drowsy lovers, and charmingly introspective lyrics combine to produce an almost cocoon-like listening experience. Whether extolling the easy life in a small town ("Quiet Town"), remembering idyllic summers of his youth ("Summertime"), reveling in new love ("It Looks Like Love"), or in old and lovely love (the truly magnificent "Wonderful" which features strings that will set your heart adrift), Rouse sounds perfectly at ease, as if he were just playing for fun with no tapes rolling. Even the song about kicking the bottle (the disco-fied "Givin' It Up"), and the melancholy narratives about knuckleheads with messed-up lives ("Jersey Clowns"), broken-hearted losers ("The Man Who..." which has some cool, spy music guitar and sweetie-pie vocals from Paz Suay), and boredom ("El Otro Lado") are sun-kissed and mellow. In fact, this record is so laid-back and blissed-out that if he felt like it Rouse could become sort of a Jimmy Buffett for the bedroom set, an inspiration for people who would rather be contemplative than inebriated, people who would rather sit in their bedroom lazily dreaming rather than washing up in the foam at a Key West hangout. It is unlikely that Rouse would allow himself to fall into any kind of repetitive groove, as each record he cuts is pretty different from the last, but if he puts out the occasional album as lovely, quiet, and cozy as Subtitulo, there will be nothing to complain about. Better yet if he did it every six months or so.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra