Idyllic song cycle about packing up and starting over… in Spain
The third volume in Rouse’s fruitful collaboration with producer Brad Jones, following 2003 artistic breakthrough 1972 and last year’s
also represents the first effort from the Nebraska-born former Nashville resident since he moved to Spain, post-divorce. Despite the playful title, there’s nothing overtly Latin about any of the LP’s 10 tracks, not even the instrumental “La Coasta Blanca.” No, the influence of Rouse’s picturesque new locale is subtler than that, bringing a touch of caressing languor to the soul-pop lilt of his last two albums. With its gentle rhythms and 33-minute running time, Subtítulo
seems slight at first listen, but the songs eventually marry, suggesting the progression from a dead end to a new start—one that’s clearly romantic in nature, turning on the balmy “It Looks Like Love” and “Wonderful,” both courtship songs of disarming forthrightness. The apparent object of Rouse’s affection, the perfectly named Paz Suay, even makes an appearance, dueting fetchingly on before-and-after tale “The Man Who Doesn’t Know How to Smile.” Only the emotionally petrified could resist such unselfconscious sweetness.