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Josh Rouse - El Turista

2010-03-24 09:18
El Turista
I had never heard of him before – had very little hope that anyone else in South Africa had. His gentle, rootsy, sweetly melodic American folk songs spoke of love, life and death and everything between with such an understated eloquence, it came as no surprise that he was but a cult concern. Some of the best music out there is heard by the few. Lucky us.

Rouse has taken quite a journey since Under Cold Blue Stars. After swearing off alcohol, ending his marriage and leaving his Nashville home, he found his salvation is his newly adopted home of Spain. There he hooked up with Spanish singer Paz Suay, now his girlfriend with whom he also records as She's Spanish, I'm American. Without sounding smug, El Turista is Rouse's way of letting everyone know that this is the most contented he's ever been.

And musically, the change in climate and location has brought an even more tranquil quality to Rouse's touching songs. You can just about feel the light Mediterranean breeze caress your skin on the 70s soul-inspired "Lemon Tree". And on "Sweet Elaine", the most tender of love songs, he slips under your skin and into your heart with the slightest break in his soft-as-feathers voice. It's blissful release. "The living is easy, and I'm feeling no pain" he croons in "Cotton Eyed Joe", a cover of the popular folk song – and it's as if the song was written for him. It's enough to make you jealous of Rouse's idyllic life in Spain.

But El Turista isn’t only out to make you wistful. The album is infused with salsa rhythms, Cuban shuffles and Brazilian samba influences that makes the experience of listening to the album something of an exotic holiday through your headphones. It's worth the trip.

I adore Josh Rouse. I just do. One incidental listen of his song "Miracle" off the album Under Cold Blue Stars back in 2002 and I was transported from a crummy music storeroom to the desolate desert highways of middle America.

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