For those of us looking for musical companionship amidst the frenzied pace of daily life, consider American singer-songwriter Josh Ritter's newest "Beast in its Tracks" release. Easy to love, these thirteen selections are commendable for warm, sensitive guitar overtures and splendid arrangements.
In the world of music, Ritter has the oft-times much needed ability to communicate much through a modicum of sound. Such is the case with "Beast's" opener. In less than a minute, "Third Arm" tells us everything we need to know: the singer's hurting, but he's on the road to recovery. Ritter has spoken in interviews about the inspiration for most of these tracks - his divorce from singer-songwriter Dawn Landes, followed by his subsequent new love interest. In other words, these songs are more about healing than heartbreak.
Just how does Ritter sing about dark topics like betrayal, and still sound so sunny, fresh and uplifting? We'll surmise he had to keep his eraser on-hand while he penned these songs. We also love the juxtaposition of songs like "Nightmares" and "Evil Eye," both good examples of Ritter's ability to turn life's challenges sunnyside-up.
There are a number of songs here in which to take refuge, including the soft rocker "Hopeful." Perfectly crafted for live in-house performances, it pulls us in with solid drumming, great lyrics, a lilting piano and a chorus fitting for audience sing-a-long's; it just may become one of your favorites. Sings Ritter on the chorus: "And she's hopeful / Hopeful, for me / I'm coming out of the dark clouds." Don't we just love happy endings?
About Josh Ritter
Ritter's music might be described as alternative folk-rock (think Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah," or Bruce Cockburn's "Lions"). The 37-year old singer-songwriter has been making music since he was just a teenager playing roadhouses and coffee shops, and often graces his music with beautiful, unique, other-worldy synthesizer touches. At a recent Portland show, Ritter stopped often while performing to express sincere appreciation for both the venue and the audience - just one more reason his fans find him so endearing.
Starting with its quiet, seductive acoustic intro, "In Your Arms Again" is another musical standout. Soft harmonies, steady tempo and a most memorable chorus, "In Your Arms" invites easy familiarity - don't be too surprised if you wake up some morning with this one in mind.
Currently getting a bit of radio airplay, "Joy to You Baby" is a sure crowd-pleaser. A pensive breakup song where the singer clearly hasn't finished letting go, "Joy to You Baby" boasts mesmerizing electric guitar on its chorus. Only days after "Beast's" initial release, Ritter played before a full house at Portland's Crystal Ballroom where it was clear most fans already knew "Joy's" lyrics.
Cuddle up and get ready for "Bonfire;" with its crisp, accomplished finger-picking and wicked-good slide guitar, it's another favorite. "In the dark, anybody will do for love / But you're the only one I want when the sun comes up / No burning ball of fire set in the sky will do / Next to my bonfire for you," sings Ritter. We love it.
Nice finish on this work of art
Ritter's vocals, the simple strum of an acoustic guitar.. and, is that bongo's we're hearing off in the distance? Suggestive of a song sung 'round the campfire, the soothing "Lights" is the perfect closer to this remarkable "Beast."
Recorded with an artist's eye for detail at the Great North Sound Society in Parsonfield Maine, these honest tracks are alive, crisp, fresh. Don't hesitate to pick up an extra copy for a family member, friend, or that special someone.
Joy to You Baby
Currently touring to promote his latest, Ritter performs April 20 in St Louis, Mo; May 17 at House of Blues in Boston, and May 18 in New York City at Terminal 5.
For more concert dates or information about the music of Josh Ritter, check him out on iTunes, or visit: http://www.joshritter.com~ Cynthia Orlando