With a few exceptions here and there, most of Josh Rouse's music since his 2003 release, "1972," has been variations on one irresistible groove, incorporating elements of '70s-style singer-songwriter, blue-eyed soul, jazzy runs, psychedelic touches, and, most of all, gorgeous, hooky pop.
At Somerville Theatre on Thursday night, his singular, sibilant vocals (and occasionally, his wonderful falsetto), accompanied by a three-piece band that easily reproduced the textures he often creates on record, Rouse offered up that groove, drawing upon his earlier work only once with a rocking version of "Directions."
Rouse is touring behind a new album, "Country Mouse, City House," and he played enough material from the record to give it its due, including the mellow, bring-the-lights-down "Snowy," the insinuating "Pilgrim," and the jumping, piano-driven beat of "Hollywood Bass Player."
But the bulk of his set came from "Nashville," his finest record to date. He started the evening off with the slow-vibe soul of "Saturday" and finished it with a magnificent version of "Sad Eyes," singing with only piano behind him for the first half of the song until the full band kicked in to build to a suitably swelling finish.
In between came the soaring pop of "Carolina," with its buoyant, intertwined harmonies, the remorseful reminiscence articulated in "Middle School Frown," and the insistent groove of "Why Won't You Tell Me What." He led his encore with a beautiful solo acoustic version of "Winter in the Hamptons" before being rejoined by his band for perhaps the quintessential Rouse song and certainly the crowd favorite: "It's the Nighttime." Add a couple of tunes from Rouse's most overt '70s homage, "1972," and a brief sampling of last year's more subdued "Subtitulo," and the result was 90 minutes of pure pop bliss.