Josh Rouse is the master of intelligent soft rock with a West Coast twist. Over the last couple of albums he appears to have lost his mojo somewhat but this collection of songs, old and new, celebrating the festive season, really marks a return to form as he ploughs his traditional furrow of slightly jazz inflected guitar based songs.
Opening with the jaunty ‘Mediterranean X-mas’ the tone is set. These are not ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ singalongs but vignettes based on thoughts and observations surrounding Christmas. ‘Red Suit’ is a joyous narrative about Santa’s preparations and how he finds houses with his GPS! A lovely chorus smothered with Hammond organ is wonderful. ‘New York Holiday’ is a sanguine meditation on spending Christmas holidays visiting cousins – all cocktail piano and hushed percussion. ‘Easy Man’ an upbeat shuffle about being relaxed in the company of his in-laws or maxing out his credit card. These are simple songs but delightful in the way Rouse presents them. This is a return to the form of ‘The Embers of Time’ or ‘The Happiness Waltz’. If one thinks of great Christmas songs that have a narrative that lifts them above novelty, say Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’, that’s where this short but delightful album is pitched.
Go buy and raise a glass.