Across continents and decades, singer/songwriter Josh Rouse has spread his own feel-good brand of soft rock for deep thinkers. Though he would sidle up alongside classic songwriters like Harry Chapin and Jim Croce, Rouse is also uniquely contemporary — especially in his trans-continental geography. A Nebraska boy who logged a lot of hours in Nashville, Rouse has called Spain home for the last bunch of years, a move which has further infused his style with unique flair. As he readies a new record, Rouse has hopped back across the pond to his old Music City stomping grounds for a couple of shows.
You would have fit in so very nicely back in the glory days of Bread, Dan Fogelberg, America, and all those other ’70s greats. Do you sometimes feel like you were born in the wrong time? And, if you could go back to any decade, which would you choose?
Those groups wrote some memorable tunes, for sure. I don’t feel like I was born at the wrong time. I remember hearing the whole Laurel Canyon scene when I was a kid and it definitely got embedded in my subconscious; but then came the whole alternative movement and I was into that as well (’80s, ’90s). I would not choose to go back to any decade. I’m cool with the here and now.
What is it about that easy, breezy, soft rock sound that is so appealing — and it is appealing? (For some of us, it’s the musical equivalent of mac and cheese.)
I just like good songs, and prefer to understand the lyric and it say something to me. I’m not by any means a fan of all ’70s AOR, some of it is cheesy. But I suppose Neil Young, Paul Simon, even John Lennon had some very listenable, mellow, acoustic songs with hints of country, jazz, etc. I think that’s a bit closer to what I do than just lumping it into to a “soft rock” group of bands that had hits, but weren’t necessarily praised by music journalists.
What artists — past or present — do you listen to for inspiration, for pleasure, for healing? And have those selections changed now that you’re a family man?  
Chet Baker Sings is probably a big one for me. It’s my favorite recording of all time. I’ve just discovered an artist named Aaron Embry that is writing magical songs. My taste in music hasn’t changed so much since I’ve had a family, but I enjoy putting on things from my past, like Prince, for them. They love it.
You did a tour earlier this year that you said would be your last for a while. What is filling your days these days?
I just finished a new record that will be out next year on Yep Roc and am in the process of moving back into Valencia [Spain] as we have been in the suburbs for the last few years. Taking care of my kids full-time when I’m home. I’ll tour a lot next year.
Although you live now in Spain, you have deep roots in Nashville. How does it feel to be hopping back across the pond to do a couple of “hometown” shows, one of which supports the great cause that is Thistle Farms?
Nashville definitely feels like home, although it’s not as charming and sleepy as it once was, or perhaps I’m just too old. I always get a bit nervous playing there as there are so many talented folks in the audience. I’m looking forward to playing a really small room and doing a worthy benefit show.
This article originally appeared on No Depression.