Josh Rouse

Among the tamer colloquialisms for the gastrointestinal challenges of indiscreet dining south of the border, El Turista takes on a far more pleasant connotation as the title of Josh Rouse's latest collection of sophisticated, globe-trotting pop songs. In the sure hands of Rouse, a Nebraska native who lived all over the U.S. before moving to Spain five years ago, El Turista's songs aren't merely digestible, they're downright savory, reflecting an eclectic array of influences in a sun-baked, languid context suggesting his new digs on the Mediterranean. On the effervescent "Lemon Tree" (not the Trini Lopez nugget) and "Valencia"—one sung in English, the other in Spanish—Rouse practically swoons at the wonders of his new environs. That "Valencia" is, somewhat nonsensically, far more Brazilian than Spanish doesn't ruin its charm. In fact, Rouse shakes and bakes his influences throughout the album. On "Duerme," a song picked up from vintage Cuban cabaret singer-pianist Bola de Nieve, Rouse sounds like a slightly nasally João Gilberto, and the vibe is pure Ipanema bossa nova. "I Will Live on Islands" could be a Graceland outtake, with Rouse's voice and acoustic guitar uncannily Simonian while the simmering groove is out of Africa via the Caribbean. But perhaps most striking is Rouse's lush, introspective reading of the often jaunty folk tune "Cotton Eyed Joe," suggesting dark undercurrents even when the "livin' is easy." (Photo by Rodrigo Paoletti)
Sat., May 29, 7 p.m., 2010

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