Josh Rouse Under Cold Blue Stars

Nebraskan singer/songwriter Josh Rouse offers up his third record of heartbreak and relationship trauma, but Under Cold Blue Stars arrives in the wrapping of a concept record. "I decided to base the record on a couple, and follow their relationship through when they met, fall in love, have careers and kids,” he explains. But listening to refreshingly short (40 min.) album, the average listener won’t exactly have the tale laid out in front of them. "It’s not super literal, which is what’s turned out to be kinda fun about it.” Continuing to follow his muse — which combines the big band country of Lambchop with more traditional, straightforward pop — Rouse simply used the concept as a guide, writing, recording and sequencing the album on four-track a full year before it was brought to a band. "There’s a whole story that I just made up in my head when I was doing it — a script I would follow. Usually the songs just come out and you throw them together. This helped the lyrics out, and the theme of each song. It made them better songs.” Although he’s never been particularly lo-fi, Under Cold Blue Stars features his fullest production to date, but touring part-time on his own with an acoustic guitar is pulling him in that direction for a new effort. While drawing on his own relationships, and those around him, as lyrical inspiration, Rouse still realises there’s little new under the sun when it comes to writing about love. "There’s nothing really different here than there is on a Journey record.” (Slow River)