I’ll be honest — I hated Rouse’s critically lauded debut, 1998’s Dressed Up Like Nebraska. But every time he releases something new, I like him a little more. His fifth album, 2003’s 1972, sparked some real indie buzz, and this year’s Nashville was even better. (It’s pretty darn great, actually — if you don’t own it yet, make sure that changes soon.)
Bedroom Classics is a tweener release, two instrumentals and three vocal numbers, and if it doesn’t scale Nashville’s glorious artistic heights, that’s okay; it isn’t supposed to. And besides, for such a low-key collection, it’s fairly wonderful. I had it on repeat for two or three hours this afternoon before I started getting tired of it. These are quiet, casual songs, full of squeaks on strings and lonesome reverb, and though they don’t sound the same, exactly, they do blend together in pleasantly dreamy fashion.
Here’s a case where all the rock-snob hype is justified. Josh Rouse is one of the best young songwriters making music right now, and he seems to be just hitting his stride. Get yourself a copy of Bedroom to hear brilliance in bloom (and so you can brag about hearing him before he sold out and got fat). But first, listen to “O, I Need All the Love” (download).