“The title was conceived during a 70-mile walk through the north of Spain in October. I thought it was a funny name and it’s similar to Aesop’s tale by the name of Country Mouse and the City Mouse,” Josh Rouse says of his seventh full-length album.
Filled with reflective lyrics, the sounds around the words reflect the lyrics themselves. “Put on your winter coat my dear / they say the snow is coming hard / gonna be the worst in years / seems my old wool hat’s disappeared,” he sings on “Snowy,” his blue velvet voice against a backdrop of sparse organ notes and a snare being tapped like a naked tree bough against a frosty window.
Rouse uses his trademark classic ‘60s and ‘70s pop sound to pay accidental or intentional homage to pop-folkies Bread, infusing his music with many of the same folk qualities and plenty of jazz. Rouse’s vocal team-ups with Paz Suay (who also works with Rouse in the duo known as “She’s Spanish, I’m American” ) is a sweet addition. Suay’s accented but perfectly complementary vocals lend an even more velvet quality to Roush’s smooth delivery.
Country Mouse/City House is a summer release, but perhaps this is makes it captivating. Its seasonal timing is askew – a cold front riding on the heat waves of summer’s usual overly tripped-out pop. Conflicting themes of wanderlust versus holing up at home with one’s sweetheart mirror the feelings of cabin fever normally associated with the winter months. It may not be the hit of the summer, but when “mitten weather” comes (as Charlie Brown once called it), this album will be the one to warm up to. VS