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Here we have quite a change in direction for Americana singer-songwriter Josh Rouse, a man who, twenty years into his career felt the need to ease into music of a difference. On pushing the envelope he opens himself to a broader audience as he pursues a more commercial sound; as he utilises keyboards, sax, handclaps, reverb guitar, percussion and synthesizer.
Arguably, the biggest change is the use of synthesizer opposed to his trusty acoustic guitar, and though not my choice Rouse meets the challenge face to face. A 1980s styled production dominates throughout as he draws on music associated with the likes of Prefab Sprout, The Style Council, The Blue Nile and others who used honed-in on electronic additions. I feel Rouse gets away with his brush with the modern age, but only just. Title-track “Love In The Modern Age” with clever use of sax, and a lively production has something for everyone. In his own words he says; ‘Coming off such a heavy record (The Embers Of Time), I wanted to try something different’.
Different is an understatement. In all honesty I believe his songs “Businessman”, the slightly sombre “Tropic Moon” and, one that sounds excellent no matter what “I’m Your Man” would all sound better with less intrusion. The latter comes complete with a hooky melody and smart lyrics that connect instantly. It reminds me of something Bap Kennedy might have done. It is undoubtedly my song of the record, but only just since in “There Was A Time” that offers a greater leaning to the usual Josh Rouse it has a genuine opponent. The record is nice enough to listen to, but the elaborate production does little for me or his lyrics for that matter.
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