Thursday, 26 September 2013

Josh Rouse - Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2

Josh Rouse's Bedroom Classics series could certainly be viewed as a collection of lost treasures among his broad catalogue of full length records. The EPs, which are comprised of three separate volumes, have been gradually released over the course of his fifteen-year career, appearing perhaps, somewhat quietly in between his ten studio albums. Though brief in duration at about five tracks per volume, all of the EPs vary in genre, with volumes one and three also featuring demos of tracks that would eventually appear on later studio releases. In this post, I will be focusing on 2005's Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2, the first album to be released on Rouse's independent Bedroom Classics label.

Inspired by Rouse's love of film scores, the EP, of which two of the five tracks are instrumental, has a moody and atmospheric tone running throughout. The spacious arrangements and rich instrumentation on 'The Last Train' are so endearing, they are somehow more effective at creating a visual imagery than the lyrics themselves. However, 'Oh, I Need All The Love' is the standout track on this collection of songs, and the one that most embodies the classic Rouse sound. Lush strings give lyrics like "Oh, I miss you, all those days we're apart / Oh, I need all of the love in your heart" an added intensity and warmth, while Rouse's effortless vocals provide a timeless edge that is consistent throughout the song.

I have heard other reviewers suggest that the tracks featured on the Bedroom Classics series are not typical of the material that would appear on a full length Rouse album, and that it would be difficult to envision the songs on anything other than an EP. I disagree - Rouse's main strength, and what initially drew me to his music is his ability to freely experiment with genres. Each of his studio albums are unique and diverse in the themes and sounds they touch upon, a quality that has arguably kept him from the mainstream singer-songwriter category, though has seen his fan base remain invested in his music and excited for future releases. For example, while the songs on Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2 have an overall cinematic feel, Rouse's 2010 album El Turista, takes on a Spanish theme, with songs featuring Spanish and English lyrics, along with tracks that are solely instrumental. El Turista is a genre-specific record, and much like this Bedroom Classics EP, succeeds in delivering an authentic sound - an aspect that, in one way or another, has been apparent on all of his work to date.