37. Josh Rouse – Nashville

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While the law of diminishing returns seems to have, rather sadly, applied to Josh Rouse’s music since the release of this album, it’s still one hell of a peak. A master of the gentle singalong, Rouse has the uncanny knack for making songs that suggest a comforting familiarity, even on first listen. On his early albums, indeed every one leading up ‘Nashville’, this was a great strength, although recent outings have suggested that it is possible for him to sound ever so slightly too familiar.

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This album is his masterpiece though, littered with jangly melodies, soaring guitar parts and the measured deployment of his syrupy sweet vocals. And, let’s be clear about this, he has an absolutely gorgeous voice. There’s no way round that. It’s not rugged, it’s not lived in and it doesn’t sound quirky. It just sounds lovely and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Sometimes you need Teenage Fanclub. Sometime you need Trashcan Sinatras. And, sometimes you need Josh Rouse. Largely upbeat, ‘Nashville’ is a great pick-me-up record, guaranteed to have me drumming along by smashing my hands down on my legs and bouncing childishly in my chair. ‘Winter In The Hamptons’, ‘It’s The Nightmare’ and ‘Saturday’ are all fine examples of power-pop Josh, as literally nobody refers to him.

What sets this album apart from all of his others is the heart-meltingly beautiful ‘Sad Eyes’, which quietly shows up, eight songs in. The lyrics are simple but affecting but it’s the music that really delivers on this one. Slowly building from understated piano, through some deft violin touches to a full-blown crescendo of layered backing vocals and the kitchen sink itself, it is a majestic four minutes and forty-eight seconds of splendour. Will make you cry when sad too, I can assure you.

38. Joan As Police Woman – To Survive

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There’s much to love on the first full studio album by Joan Wasser, she who be Joan As Police Woman. ‘Real Life’ is a strong collection of songs, all propelled forward by her breathy, powerful vocals. But ‘To Survive’ is the one that gets me every time. It took me an incredibly long time to realise that there was more than one song on this album, so resolutely did I fall in love with the third track, ‘To Be Loved’. From the moment I heard it till, well, now, it absolutely melted my heart and tickled my metaphorical fancy. It is a near-perfect pop song and yet it doesn’t have a stadium-shagging chorus or a naggingly infectious beat. In fact, it shuffles along, slightly awkwardly, Wasser’s voice mellifluously wafting over a masterful musical backdrop. I still adore it and suspect I always will.

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In attempt to avoid song fatigue, I ensure that I spent some time with the rest of the album and was overjoyed to realise that the other nine songs weren’t too shabby either. ‘Honor Wishes’ sets out the soulful and sparse stall and the record never looks back. The hypnotically throbbing bass on ‘Holiday’ hints at a darker undercurrent while jangly acoustic guitar gently layers itself over the top, while ‘Start Of My Heart’ is a love song of quite startling simplicity benefiting further from a wonderfully emotive vocal.

Rufus Wainwright creeps in for the album’s finale, ‘To America’, but don’t be foolish enough to think that he’s there to bolster proceedings. In the nicest possible way, he simply isn’t needed. There’s enough to make you staggeringly glad that you shelled out your cash on this one, long before you get to the last track.