This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
The realization comes about three songs into Under Cold Blue Stars — right when roots-pop singer-songwriter Josh Rouse plays off the whistling synth line of Miracle, rasping, “Hurry up, gonna be late / Can’t wait to see this place,” like the ghost of Paul Westerberg.
Suddenly, it hits you: With this gentle masterwork of winsome melody, simple sentiment and textured production, Rouse has made the leap from talented up-and-comer to full-fledged artist. The rest of his inspired and near-flawless third album — a semi-concept disc loosely based on his parents — only bolsters the argument as track after track marries the throbbing electro-pop artistry of U2 to the scrappy flannel-rock of latter-day Replacements, creating a melancholy, moody but ultimately majestic portrait of hushed intimacy. Truly stellar — and, you realize, his career is still just getting started.