Josh Rouse and Grant-Lee Phillips head for Edinburgh as they tour together

Josh Rouse and Grant-Lee Phillips are performing at the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh, on Thursday, May 2.
Josh Rouse and Grant-Lee Phillips are performing at the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh, on Thursday, May 2.

Acclaimed singer-songwriters Josh Rouse and Grant-Lee Phillips are co-headlining a spring tour which will see them perform at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Theatre on Thursday, May 2.

They are touring in support of their newest albums, Rouse’s Love in the Modern Age and Phillips’ Widdershins.

Last year, the record labelmates released a co-written, co-produced track, ‘Empire State’, to promote their tour. The songwriting process for the single began 15 years ago when Grant-Lee and Josh first met. The pair only got halfway through the song during that initial songwriting session and it went into a drawer – until now.

With the two both living in Nashville, they decided to unearth the old song. The final touches, the late arriving lyrics and a new bridge section gave new weight to the whole song.

“I’ve admired Josh Rouse’s music for a long while,” said Grant-Lee. “I love that he’s always taking his songs to new places, making new discoveries. On a road-trip like this, you find yourselves sharing notes, bouncing ideas off each other, trading guitar chords, keeping each other awake on the highway. It’s a full-on mobile summit.“

Josh added: “I have admired Grant since my early 20s. When Mighty Joe Moon came out my friends and I thought it was the best record we’d ever heard. I actually sent fan mail! So sharing the stage with him will be a dream come true.”

Capturing the aesthetics of a specific moment in time, Rouse’s Love in the Modern Age takes inspiration from the sound and production of early 1980s releases by The Blue Nile, The Style Council and Prefab Sprout. Trading in his trusty acoustic guitar for a synthesizer, Love in the Modern Age still bears Rouse’s distinct fingerprints even as it pushes his limits and forges a bold new chapter more than 20 years into his celebrated career.

Inspired by “the things that eat away in the late hours”, Phillips said he made a commitment to himself not to sink into despair, and sees in Widdershins a connection to his earliest work with Grant Lee Buffalo.

“That was also a time of intense social anxiety. The Gulf War, the LA riots – everything became cranked up.

“Then a few years later there was the earthquake we lived through, which also made for a time of uneasiness.

“I was in a heightened state when I wrote that stuff – as I am now.”