Josh Rouse El Turista

Josh Rouse El Turista
In understated fashion, Rouse has amassed a significant body of work over the past dozen years. He has taken stylistic detours before, but none as radical as this, his eighth full-length album. "I know it's kind of funny, this Midwestern guy doing Brazilian songs in Spanish," he says, but it works superbly. Rouse has lived in Spain for the last five years, and has clearly mastered the language. The gentle lilt of his voice fits the bossa and Cuban feel of the songs he has chosen to cover ("Duerme" and "Mesie Julian" were recorded by famed Cuban artist Bola de Nieve), while original tunes confirm his ability as a songwriter. Strings are used extensively, but in more convincing fashion than on some of Rouse's earlier albums. There's a Paul Simon vibe to "I Will Live On Islands," while traditional folk classic "Cotton Eye Joe" is almost unrecognizable in its new incarnation. A cinematic, instrumental opening track, "Bienvenido," sets the tone nicely, while a gorgeous sax and strings-fuelled ballad, "Don't Act Tough," closes out the proceedings equally effectively. Let's hope Rouse isn't accused of cultural expropriation, for music this lovely transcends nationality. (Yep Roc)