Title: Come Back (Light Therapy)
Artist: Josh Rouse
Earlier in the week, I profiled a song by Fountains of Wayne from an album in which they seemed to be paying homage to their pop influences by writing songs in the style of these artists (most obviously, their Cars tribute "Stacy's Mom"). In 2003, American singer-songwriter Josh Rouse took this same concept in a slightly different direction, producing an album written and performed entirely in the style of pop artists hitting the charts during the year of his birth: 1972. He went all the way with this concept, right down to the album cover which features swirls of brown and mustard yellow enveloping a monochromatic photo of Rouse looking like a young Paul Simon. Listing the song titles right on the front of the record is also a nice 70s touch.
Although largely ignored, this is one of my favorite records of all time so it was difficult to choose a track to feature. I went with "Come Back (Light Therapy)" for the fat Fender P-Bass line that would not seem out of place on an Al Green record and the falsetto-laden bridge (at 1:55) that is as sweet as anything Bread or America ever mustered. The groove is pre-disco but lives on the verge just like the time period it emulates. In fact, the break at 2:14 captures this idea wonderfully with its pentatonic sixteenth note string orchestra riffs syncopating over a four-on-the-floor drumbeat. And those strings are real, just like the saxes that punctuate the second verse and the well-placed flutes that snuggle up against the vocal at 1:35. All of these colors, adding so much warmth and richness to the track were commonplace in the 70s and have since been replaced by synthesizers and samples. (He even throws in some vibes on the outro for good measure!) For many of you, this track will be a reminder of how music used to be made; for others, an introduction. Check out the whole album—it's a classic within a classic.